Project: VITAL 2017: Celebrating Creativity, Nature, Respecting Animals, and Honoring our Elders

Mrs. Jeanine Semon working with a student.

Project: VITAL (Values In The Arts & Life) 2017 celebrated values demonstrated in the artwork of Mrs. Jeanine Semon.  Mrs. Semon is an 86-year-old, local artist, whose art depicts scenes from nature. The program focused on Mrs. Semon’s series of five watercolor paintings entitled, “Passages.”  This series portrays a procession of animals passing through from one painting to the next. The depiction of movement, which allows the animals “freedom to roam” beyond the borders of the paintings, can be likened to allowing a person the freedom to create without the constraints of negative thinking.

Local artists—Mrs. Nechi Anton, Mrs. Aviva Linton, Mrs. Sally Duback, Mrs. Adria Willenson, and Mrs. Yonina Schlussel—worked with students at 53rd Street School, U.S. Grant Elementary School, Trowbridge Street School, Bader Hillel Academy, and Kathryn T. Daniels University Preparatory Academy, respectively.  Classes worked with the artists to create artwork based on the themes found in Mrs. Semon’s paintings. As part of the program, Mrs. Semon, currently living at Ovation Sarah Chudnow, visited each school to talk to the students about her art and life.  Students at Kathryn T. Daniels University Preparatory Academy had an opportunity to visit Mrs. Semon at Sarah Chudnow and work with residents on creating artwork using cray-pas on black paper.  They also had a chance to visit Mrs. Semon’s art studio and see a painting “in progress.”

Through learning the values of respecting nature and our elders, participants learned that art comes from somewhere deep within.

Students show off their artwork inspired by Mrs. Semon’s “The Passages” poem.

The artwork that the students created will be compiled into a video along with narration of their writings about their creations. The video will be previewed at a celebration event on November 30th at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center. Also at the event will be local Milwaukee musician Lil’ Rev, performing songs based on the aforementioned themes; students from IDEAL School performing in a drum circle; and Mrs. Semon’s presenting a talk, as well.  Students from the various participating schools will be bused  to the event.

This program was made possible through generous donations from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s Heart of Canal Street program, and Bader Philanthropies.

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