Anyone who entered Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy on May 22 might have been greeted by an oversized harp and band playing Middle Eastern music.
It set the mood for the evening as visitors explored SAR Academy during its second annual Interactive Arts Festival. Inside, they found artwork, videos sharing details about the individual artists, and even listened to live music and singing performances.
This year’s theme celebrated Jerusalem’s 50th year of reunification, Yom Yerushalayim, with the colors blue and white representing the Israeli flag. One of the beverages of the evening was a seltzer with a blue and white straw, celebrating the anniversary and adding a festive twist to the colors of the night.
The showcase featured the work of the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade classes at the school.
“I like people to see my pictures because it’s fun, and I also like to paint them,” Honor Greenberg, a fifth-grader, said. She made two pictures using watercolor paint, adding she found inspiration perusing pictures on the internet before adding her twist to the works.
One scene is sailboats on the water, the other is a snowy blizzard scene in a wooded area with birds and a dog. Greenberg, 11, said her happiest moment working on the project was removing the tape for where she painted the trees, adding some embellishment to give them a more realistic look. She used acrylic paint and splattered it on the paper to make the snow.
“My favorite part of working on the iPad is being able to erase really easily and being able to copy things,” 9-year-old Akiva Wald said.
He likes to draw and doodle, sharing three sketches on his computer through the app Procreate.
Wald traced two of his pieces. The American flag, however, he sketched on his own.
Ellie Minkove, another fifth-grader, made a giant pair of arms and hands, which were more than four feet long. Using felt fabric and garbage bags for the stuffing, Minkove said her piece represented a giant hug. The school attached the arms to a pole allowing a spectator to walk in the middle, creating the feel of receiving a hug.
Minkove, who designed the piece with another classmate, said they originally wanted to make a person standing in the center with the two arms. “It didn’t work out,” so Minkove used some creative flair and used a pole instead.
The fifth- and sixth-grade classes made a collage that was used as a backdrop for a selfie photo booth.
“We each looked at a scene of Jerusalem they took through photographs or their own research, and they picked a scene, and then they created a scene inside of a box,” art teacher Adiella Shem Tov said. “We put them all together to create … a wall of Jerusalem.”
Greenberg and Minkove also made a scene for the project, part of more than 20 that provided a glimpse into modern-day Jerusalem.
Although the festival was not open to the general public, SAR’s arts and entertainment director Sharon Marson said photographs from various exhibits will be printed in the school’s newsletter as well as the June issue of Hutch — a children’s literary and creativity magazine published by Peter Reynolds’ nonprofit foundation, The Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning and Creativity.
SAR Academy is a co-educational modern Orthodox Jewish day school, serving students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Throughout the academic year, students take 15-week courses where they have the option of studying disciplines like photography, painting or ceramics, as well as music concentrations such as keyboard, music history and drumming.
Through the assortment of courses, Tov wanted students to feel comfortable expressing themselves in multiple forms of art with the confidence of knowing they have skills in any medium they choose.
“We didn’t have any of this two years ago,” Marson said. “We went from standard art programming to something so diverse and collaborative and creative that really reaches each child.
“They select what they want to study, and we’ve really gotten great results. The work is really of high caliber.”
“What’s coming out of the program is amazing,” Tov said. “And, really deep work, thoughtful work.”