Tonawanda News — “They’ve done rock stars, themselves or someone who’s passed,” Fernandez said. “I have (artwork representing) two grandmothers on the table over there. There’s a lot of emotion incorporated in these. You don’t always have the words to say what you want to say. It’s nice to have another way of saying it.”
Two of the biggest pieces of art in the exhibit were created by students of middle school art teacher Christina Davis, who produced portraits, laid out on a grid, in which each student drew the contents of one square. The pieces were then assembled for the final product, but the students didn’t know the portraits’ subjects until they were finished.
Davis started the class with portraits of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama around election time, then created a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. For the latest, which hangs in the Carnegie exhibit, Davis chose a picture of 14-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban in October because of her efforts toward education and women’s rights. She survived, and was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize — the youngest nominee in history.
“I thought she’d be perfect, because she’s the age of the students I’m teaching,” Davis said. “Everything clicked.”
After creating and assembling the portrait, the students watched a documentary on Yousafzai — followed by news coverage of her in her hospital bed after the attack. The realization that someone their age had nearly been killed for demanding a better education, Davis said, led to a classroom discussion on the privilege and right of schooling.
“It’s really a way to introduce things to them in a new way,” Davis said. “We try to pull as much as we can into our art programs, with the limited time and resources that we have.”