On Saturday, Feb. 12, the Islip Arts Council hosted a reception at their gallery for seventh-grade art students from Candido Crespo’s class at Ralph G. Reed Middle School in Central Islip.
The Youth Empowerment Art Project, which is sponsored by the Central Islip Civic Council along with the Islip Arts Council, is partially funded by the Suffolk County Youth Bureau Omnibus Grant. The project allows each student to create a painting that represents themselves along with a poem featuring “I am” statements to go along with their painting. The program has been going since 2017 and began as a way for students to express themselves in a helpful and positive way.
One of the student-artists, Ashlee Ganesh, wrote the quote, “If you’re lucky enough to be born different, never change,” on her canvas. Ganesh said she saw the quote somewhere and really loved it, so she decided to incorporate it into her piece. Her “I am” poem stated, “I am a sister. I am a student. I am a best friend. I am a daughter.”
The reception was a great experience for students to come in with their families and see their work hung up in a gallery. Ralph G. Middle School principal Anthony Coggiano, who was at the reception, said the program was a great way for kids to express themselves and that it was inspiring for them to see their work hung across from accomplished artists and authors that are featured at the Islip Arts Council Gallery.
Islip Town councilman Jim O’Connor also stopped by the reception after hearing about it from Debra Cavanagh, of the Central Islip Coalition of Good Neighbors, and Joan Crescitelli, of the Central Islip Civic Council.
“I’m really amazed,” O’Connor said of the students’ work. “It’s really terrific.
Crespo, the art teacher that helped the students with their work, said seventh graders are a great year for students to be doing this project.
“Seventh grade is an interesting year,” Crespo said. “Students are just coming into themselves. They are finding their identity.”
The Youth Empowerment Project will be up at the Islip Arts Council Gallery through Feb. 28.
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