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North Shore Hebrew Academy fifth grade artwork inspired by Jewish artist Marc Chagall on display at the Great Neck Library (Photos by Wanda Lei, Great Neck Library Programming/Editorial Assistant)

North Shore Hebrew Academy Unveils Art Exhibit At The Library

This month, North Shore Hebrew Academy (NSHA) is displaying artwork at the Great Neck Library. Art encompassing what students from first to eighth grade learned and created throughout the school year will be displayed in the Great Neck Library art gallery all month.

This is the second year NSHA has partnered with the Great Neck Library for the art gallery, and this year’s theme is Creative Connection: The Art Zone. Jill Cole, director of the NSHA Art Program, carefully selected about 200 pieces of her student’s art to be featured in the exhibit.

“A lot of the pieces are founded in a way that supports what we do within our curriculums,” said Abby Weiss, NSHA director of Institutional Advancement. “There are many pieces in the show that reflect our Jewish heritage. But then we also have art that exemplifies the artist and technique studies the children have learned through their art class.”

Students have a 40-minute art period during which they can explore their creative side and connect what they are learning in class about religion or an artist with their own work.

“The idea is that the art studio is a space where students can really lose themselves in their art,” said Weiss. “It’s a space for our students to fully connect with their creative selves.”

Cole devotes herself to her students by helping them become the best artists they can be, even those who might not consider themselves artists.

“We get a lot of students who walk in at the beginning of the year, and their first instinct is to say, ‘I’m not an artist.’ But I always say, ‘Everybody’s an artist,’” said Cole.

Cole’s art classes focus on different projects for different grades. For example, fifth-graders make 3D puppets for Purim that students make from modeling clay and cones. The students then perform a play for the younger students with the puppets that explain the story of Purim.

Purim puppets

“Each grade has a chance to explore acrylic paint on canvas and do an artist study. There are going to be portraits, landscapes and all different things in the exhibit,” said Cole.

The back of each piece of artwork contains an explanation of the piece and the student learning goals, which will be displayed next to the artwork for the gallery viewers to read.

While students are learning about all different art mediums, iconic artists and other aspects that fit into their curriculum, Cole makes sure art class remains a fun and reactive place for her students.

“We want them to have fun. They don’t even know that they’re learning. There’s a lot of giggling in class, and I take the intimidation out of it. I don’t want them to feel that they can’t do something, so I show them how. It’s really my favorite thing,” said Cole.

While Cole has over 500 students, only 200 students’ artwork is displayed in the gallery. The artwork ranges from all of the projects and lessons learned throughout the school year.

“As an art educator, we’re always hanging up the work so everyone sees what the students have been working on. They bring the work home, and hopefully, they’re having discussions about the work, but this [exhibit] is something a little bit special,” said Cole.

Third grade Portraits

The Great Neck Library hosted an opening reception for the gallery on Thursday, May 9, where students, family members and NSHA staff came to the library to view the beautifully crafted art.

“We really love being a part of the Great Neck community. Partnering with the library is nice because our values are all in the same place. Any chance we have to be part of community happenings, we really enjoy it,” said Weiss. “And certainly, the Great Neck Public Library is a huge part of our family’s and students’ lives. And so there is a real sense of pride for our parents to walk into the library and see their children’s artwork.”

View the NSHA Art Exhibit at the Great Neck Library until May 30.

Visit nsha.org to learn more about the North Shore Hebrew Academy.

Visit greatnecklibrary.org for more information about the exhibit.

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