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Pierre Sylvain and Cheshire Academy Group Photos

Professional Artists Enhance Classes All Year Long

Students learn different ways of seeing from those who make it their business 

Cheshire Academy students learn about visual arts in one of the best ways possible – directly from working, professional artists.  

This semester, artists creating in diverse media – and from varied backgrounds – have shared their vision with students in small groups and artist talks, as well as openings at our own Kohn-Joseloff Gallery Space. While some have passed on specific techniques in studio art classes, they have all showed students how art provides a unique lens with which to consider themselves and the world around them.  

“Cheshire Academy is fortunate to be located near many vibrant art communities and working artists. As such, we are able to invite artists to visit our campus to share their stories,” said French Teacher Laura Longacre, who welcomed Haitian-born artist and curator Pierre Sylvain of Middletown to visit two seminar classes, “Identity, Culture, and History” and “Latinx Culture in the US.” 

Sylvain, who creates vibrant mosaics and felted portraits, told students that he was first inspired to create as a child considering the masterworks of Michaelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and his personal favorite, Vincent van Gogh. “I feel not too many people of color were represented in that world,” he said. “I feel this is where I came from; why not show it?” 

The message strikes a chord with CA students, Longacre said. 

“The arts speak to our sense of self and how we express our world. Our students are in the midst of so much discovery and growth that opportunities to have comfortable and genuine interactions with artists serve to activate and to enhance the student experience.”  

Sylvain’s works showcase influential figures throughout history – from Haitian General François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture and American abolitionist Frederick Douglass to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and First Lady Michelle Obama. He encouraged all students to express themselves through art. “If you have something great to say, just say it now,” he said. “Put it out there as much as you can.” 

In May, Christian Curiel, a New Haven-based artist who teaches at Southern Connecticut State University, taught one of Ana Henriques’ art classes and spoke to about 50 students from Patrick Fitzgerald’s and Katie Cooper’s Expressions of Identity classes. Born in Miami, Curiel spoke of his strong Cuban identity and how “The Raft of Medusa” by 19th-century artist Théodore Géricault and 1990s news photos inspired paintings of migrants fleeing the island nation on makeshift boats. “All these images really surprised me as a child,” he said. “I want to show that, but in visual art, I don’t want to give you the answer. I want you to have questions.” 

In February, the CA community gathered to view “Gentle Medicine,” an exhibition of works by Eoin Patrick Burke and Tracie Cheng in the Kohn-Joseloff Gallery Space. The following month, Jasmine Nikole and Tiara McKnight ’12 welcomed guests to their exhibition, “The Stories We Tell.” 

@cheshireacademy 💙🎨 We recently hosted yet another beautiful art opening in our Kohn-Joseloff Gallery Space on campus with two captivating artists (and sisters!) — Jasmine Nikole and Tiara McKnight '12 for their showcase of "The Stories We Tell.” Thank you to both artists for bringing dynamic and creative artwork into the space. Make sure to stop by and view the pieces this month! #artwork #art #cheshireacademy #gallery #artist ♬ original sound - Cheshire Academy
@cheshireacademy Last night we had our artist opening for Gentle Medicine by Eoin Patrick Burke & Tracie Cheng. Inspired by the beauty of the world and understanding of living, the couple hosted an artist talk. Yet another art opportunity for our students! Their exhibit will be up until Feb. 29, check it out! 🖼️🎨 #cheshireacademy #art ♬ original sound - Cheshire Academy

At Cheshire Academy, there are no prerequisites or restrictions on art. Students are given the space, tools and independence to work on their own creations, both recreationally and through the Art Major. Whether creating a portfolio to pursue art in college or looking for a creative outlet, students have the flexibility, resources and time to discover their talents and develop confidence to fully express themselves. 

 

To learn more about Cheshire Academy’s arts offerings, visit cheshireacademy.org/arts.  

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