Promoting unity through art

Students from Trumbull and Mahoning County schools and area colleges are coming together in unity as part of a “Unity Project”designed to not only showcase students’ artistic talents but share a message of building a better community and world.

The Unity Project with the theme “UNITE! Dream to build a better community, a better World” is being displayed through Jan. 31 at Mill Creek MetroParks Fellows Riverside Gardens. A reception and open house to meet students who took part in the project is set for 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the D.D. and Velma Davis Education Center.

Tracy Schuler Vivo, director of Visual and Performing Arts for Youngstown City Schools, said this is the second year for the project, which started with Youngstown school children and has expanded to eight other area schools such as Austintown, Liberty, Lordstown, Kent State University and Youngstown State University.

Each school and district submitted large 3-foot by 4-foot collaborative paintings on canvas in December. Pieces include images, symbols, letters and lines along with a theme and quote.

“The Unity Project is a true community effort. The project symbolizes unity through the collaborative painting process. The students showed a lot of effort and work in completing this. This project brought everyone together and shows the community that we can all be part of something together,”she said.

There will be 24 canvases, with 12 from Youngstown schools.

Vivo said students in both elementary and high schools had the opportunity to contribute to the Unity Project, painting in their own way. Each painting was accompanied by a quote explaining each building’s take on unity.

Each school received a blank canvas to be utilized for a collaborative painting / project with visual art students creating a unified vision for the collaborative project in correlation with the theme. A title for the piece and an original quote generated by the discussion between the visual art teacher and students also accompanied it.

“This project was a big success last school year in its inaugural year and we are now broadening our reach to other districts and area universities this year. Last year’s images will soon be displayed permanently in downtown Youngstown in collaboration with YSUscape,” she said.

Following the display at Mill Creek Park, the exhibit will be shown at other area locations for the remainder of the 2018-19 school year, at community venues such as Mahoning County Library branches and the McDonough Museum of Art.

Verna DelDuca, art teacher for Lordstown schools, said each student taking art at Lordstown High School was asked to develop and contribute to the art piece that promoted community building. When completed, the project was titled “Rays of Light” with the slogan “Let the community rays of light shine.”

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