By Lisa Capobianco
Murals depicting a tropical landscape, a butterfly and abstract flower remain on display at Southington Public Library as part of the Kelley Elementary School Art Club’s cause to continue its outreach to the community. Throughout the month of June, the library will display five murals in the gallery to benefit different charitable organizations.
Consisting of about 45 students ranging from first to fifth grade, the “Art for a Cause” club at Kelley School has donated the projects each month to local charities and organizations with the goal of inspiring happiness in others. For this month’s exhibit, about 20 club members used oil pastels on an 8 and a half by 11 paper to work on individually, but they also worked together to create transitions between their sections.
“The final result surprised what I thought elementary school kids could do,” said Kim Rees, a Kelley School parent who volunteers her time to run the club. “We’ve seen them blossom from the beginning.”
Rees said students worked together to choose charities for the proceeds of each mural’s sale. They decided to reach out to other children through organizations such as the Big Brothers Big Sisters of CT, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s ArtReach Program and Children in Placement, a statewide child advocacy and youth empowerment program. The exhibit will also benefit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and Special Olympics Connecticut.
Looking ahead to the next school year, Rees said her hope is to see the children hand-deliver their art to people from all walks of life in the community, including local veterans or patients at a hospital.
“I feel like they’ve done more for me—their enthusiasm is so amazing,” said Rees, who is currently compiling scrapbooks of each student’s art work he or she created over the course of the school year.
Formed in 2013, “Art for a Cause” meets monthly to participate in a project led by parent leaders and volunteers. The club originated from an Asset Building Classroom (ABC) survey administered by the STEPS coalition when the results revealed a particular interest in art as an extracurricular activity. Funded by donations from club members’ parents and a grant from the Joe and Kay Calvanese Foundation last fall, “Art for a Cause” also received a portion of funding from a donation that Kelley School received from JoAnn Fabrics.
“The whole purpose of doing it is to make someone happy,” said Clare Bean, who helps lead the club with Rees. “We’ve seen them progress.”
Since the club began, students have donated their art to different members of the community, including the Southington Fire Department, Southington Community Services, Southington ARC, and The Summit at Plantsville. Last month, they created a bird exhibit displayed at the library called “Let Inspiration Soar,” which raised over $700 to be distributed among 28 different charities.
Throughout the month of June, members of the community will be free to bid on a mural online through The Isthmian Gallery, an organization that empowers youth by allowing their artwork to be a way to raise funds for charities they support. Bidders can visit www.theisgallery.org, which also accepts individual artwork from children. The five murals will be displayed after searching “Murals” in the search bar. Users can insert their maximum bid by clicking on “Bid Now.”