Every Student Shines at Walden Art Show

June 11, 2019

The Walden School gym, at Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES in Yorktown, was ablaze with color and textures, as the annual student art show took over the cavernous space, covering every surface with individual and collaborative works of art.

“It’s just amazing,” exclaimed Melanie Burch, a Walden teacher who showed up with her mother and nine-year old triplets, to take in the exhibit. “I love all the colors and the music,” she said, referring to the 60s and 70s-era albums playing on an old phonograph, part of a collaborative art project displayed nearby.
Every year, the art department team of Jesse Steiner and Debra Canzio mounts the supersize exhibit of student artwork, representing BOCES’ Walden and Pines Bridge schools, Transitions program and Intensive Therapeutic Support Program (ITSP).

Christine Boyd, a Rye Brook parent, was admiring an abstract painting by her nine-year-old son, Will.

“Will is very creative and very artistic. Creativity is positively reinforcing for him,” she said. “Much of the school day is very structured and art is a point in the day where he can just exhale.”

Steiner is open to having students create art in any way that works for them. “Different kids thrive with different artistic parameters,” he said. “Some kids will just go at it with a paint stick and some paint; others prefer structure and getting directions.”

Visitors particularly enjoyed a tree covered in whimsical, hand-made, paper birds and a huge Chihuly-inspired sculpture hanging from the gym’s high ceiling. Both were collaborative efforts in which every student played a role.

“We include everyone when we create these large-scale, group projects,” said Steiner, pointing to the Chihuly-esque piece, constructed out of plastic bottles.  “Every student can contribute something, whether it’s cutting the bottles, choosing paint colors, or shaking up the paint inside the bottles – there’s always something a student can do to be part of it.”

Another collaborative work consisted of vinyl record albums that had been painted by students. A photo showed how the students painted the albums as they spun around on a phonograph. “The students really enjoyed that process,” said Steiner, who noted that only cracked or scratched albums were used for painting.

Each student had three individual pieces on display, and a steady stream of family members visited the show on Monday evening to take it all in. “I’m just blown away by the show,” said Joe Zambelli, whose daughter Jaylyn is a student at Walden. “Some of the pieces remind me of Frank Stella’s artwork.”