Under the guidance of PHS art teachers, Molina has spent the past several weeks working alongside approximately 100 students in grades 9-12 as the classes create a visual story through the art of fabric painting and collaging, à la the style of renowned African American artist Faith Ringgold, who will have her work on display at the HVCCA show.
According to the show’s description on the HVCCA website, “Between I & Thou” is a celebration of diversity which includes artists from many different areas of the globe as they explore interconnections between personal, cultural, religious and national themes. The show reflects the “human need to tell the story of self and society,” while “offering a rich conversation about the sameness and differentness among us.”
PCSD Art Department Leader Elizabeth Tabone notes that her students’ work will fit well into the theme of the show.
“Our kids are creating a visual story about themselves- who they are, where they come from, their family’s heritage and the things that are important to them,” explained Tabone. “The individual pieces are all going to come together to show how we are all in this world together- how we are all united and interconnected.”
During class time, Molina, who is a Filipino American artist, has been sharing her own stories of her family’s history and culture, while encouraging students to channel their personal heritage into their pieces. Molina then teaches the students how to use dyeing techniques as a form of painting to aid in the storytelling process.
“I shared with [students] textiles from the Philippines, and spoke with them about how I was trying to isolate studying about my own culture while being raised in America and reviewing my own history in a new light,” Molina said. “I also found, in doing my own research, that there are so many other histories interlaced within my own, and I found this as an invitation to share the fact that we all have common threads.”
Molina has also used her teaching opportunity at PHS to encourage the students to think about the project’s real time relevance as it focus on cultural diversity in the wake of recent political events around the world.
“Peekskill itself has such a rich history and the kids are seeing how history is all interconnected,” Molina said. “I think it’s empowering for them to be a part of this and experience their town and their own stories in this way. Especially at this time, politically and culturally, to be creating work that’s celebrating diversity - it’s just very powerful.”
Funding for the project comes from collaboration between the Peekskill City School District and the HVCCA’s Artist in Residency program.
“This is an invaluable opportunity for our students, staff members, teachers, and for the museum,” Tabone said. “For our kids to see these real world connections is just amazing. And for our kids to have their work on display at an opening reception for professional artists is a dream come true. We wouldn’t have had this opportunity without the District’s support.”
The work created by Peekskill students will be on display at the opening reception for, “Between I & Thou” on February 4 from 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, located at 1701 Main St, Peekskill, NY 10566. Following a three month showing, the students’ piece will be brought back to Peekskill High School for permanent installation.