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A Tree Grows in Riley Avenue One Tile at a Time

L-R: Paige Raynor Giancarlos Velasquez, Genevieve Matwey and Frank Capone work with visiting artiste Clare Bennett on a mosaic for the library.
L-R: Paige Raynor Giancarlos Velasquez, Genevieve Matwey and Frank Capone work with visiting artiste Clare Bennett on a mosaic for the library.
Students in Riley Avenue Art Teacher Melissa Haupt's classes are working with visiting artist Clare Bennett to create a 6 x 4 foot mosaic for the school's new library.

Under Ms. Haupt's and Ms. Bennett's guidance, every student in the Riley Avenue School has had a hand in creating this beautifully intricate mosaic of tile and stained glass. Ms. Bennett has a full studio in her Manorville home where she teaches pottery, stained glass and mosaics, but she has been involved in several art projects in East End schools. 

“When I do a project with the students, it's not like I say ‘okay, come on, let’s do it.’ First, I talk to each class about art  history and about famous artists and how each artist contributes to the world of art” stated Ms. Bennett. “Elementary students ask such great questions and I love their enthusiasm. The kids love being allowed to use actual tools to smash the tiles,” the visiting artist said. “It builds confidence for them, knowing they are capable of creating such a beautiful piece of art.”

“Each year, we invite an artist into the school to inspire the students and to act as a catalyst for large intricate projects like this one,” said Ms. Haupt. “I used funds from an art fund-raiser we had last year to finance Ms. Bennett's visit this year. With the help of the children, I created the overall design for the mosaic, and all of Riley's students have been working with Ms. Bennett on and off for over a month to create it. By the conclusion of this project, we will not only have a real work of art, but every child in our school can point to it with pride and say, 'I helped create this.'”

New walls offer the opportunity for new, large art endeavors for which the District's students are famous. Student artists at the Aquebogue Elementary School are currently working with visiting artist Joyce Raimondo on a similar project--to create a huge mural, which will be painted onto a new wall in their recently enlarged cafeteria / kitchen area.

Superintendent Nancy Carney explained at a recent Board of Education meeting, "We have a beautiful new library at the Riley Avenue School and when the student's have completed this colorful mosaic, it will add an extra special dimension to this educational space."


Article/photo courtesy of Sandy Kolbo, RCSD Public Information

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