Sixth-graders at Rye Neck Middle School are spreading kindness, peace and positive messages throughout their school, thanks to an art project they recently completed in teacher Trisha Appel’s art classes.
Inspired by Pablo Picasso, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, and his famous antiwar painting called “Guernica,” the students created their own original paintings that incorporated the international symbol of peace – a white dove – at the center of their work.
“The students used the dove as a means to carry their message throughout their work,” Appel said. “Many expressed how their doves were being used to show a positive message and bring that message to others as they view their work.”
Using pencils and paper, the students first sketched out their ideas before painting their compositions with watercolor paints. Then, they painted their dove white with tempera paint to make it stand out, and later outlined it in black oil pastels or black pencils to either smooth out the edges for a softer look or create a crispier edge. They also incorporated different words of encouragement, scenes of nature, landscapes, people and city skylines to help express their messages of peace, kindness and positivity. As a final step to the project, the young artists added borders to their finished works and reflected on the experience.
“In my project, the dove is rising with the sun – with the rays of different words that describe peace, such as hope, love, peace, joy, life, grace, unity, pride,” said sixth-grader Samina Quli, who added that her dove is rising to bring hope to a new day. “When people look at my painting, I hope they feel a bit happier. In darkness, you can always find a speck of light.”
The students’ work also directly aligns with the No Place for Hate program at Rye Neck Middle School, which was spearheaded by sixth-grade guidance counselor Meegan Lawlor as a way to promote kindness within the school community.
“The peace dove art project will be used as a visual means for all students to remember to be kind and to stand up for what is right in order to make our school a safe and fun place to be for everyone,” Appel said. “The students liked the idea of being able to brighten up the halls of the middle school with positive messages expressed through their own works of art.”
As sixth-graders work on this project each trimester, their paintings will decorate the middle school halls with messages about peace and kindness throughout the year. In addition, several paintings will be chosen to be displayed at an upcoming exhibit at the Mamaroneck Library, to be held in December.