Rockford art students participate in ‘Children Make Art For Children’
by MIKE WESTGATE
East Rockford Middle School
“Children have a very, very uninhibited point of view,” said Linda LaFontsee, who, along with the LaFontsee Galleries staff, will provide and frame all artwork for the $286 million 14-story Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital slated to open in 2011. With this mission in mind, LaFontsee Galleries is partnering with local schools in a project entitled Children Make Art For Children. “The goal is that when kids walk into this hospital, they feel this is for them, and children can tell the difference,” added LaFontsee.
East Rockford Middle School (ERMS) art teacher Sara Mullen established a connection with LaFontsee Galleries while studying with Linda LaFontsee at Kendall College of Art and Design. Excited about the opportunity to contribute and involve Rockford students in donating art for the project, Mullen met with gallery organizers to discuss the possibilities. They were very enthusiastic about Mullen’s ideas and more than willing to include our ERMS students’ artwork in the hospital. In addition, our sixth-grade art teacher Tami Appleby and Mullen collaborated to include over 600 students from both ERMS and North Rockford Middle School (NRMS).
With 14 floors to fill with original art, the gallery and students have been busy. The gallery started gathering art last year at the Celebration on the Grand and is even supporting our schools with materials. Art II and Advanced Art students made fruit and vegetable paintings that will be on display in the Health and Education Lobby. Other students are working on underwater Lake Michigan landscapes that will be converted into linoleum tiles and Grand Rapids city landscapes with paint and tissue paper. Sixth-grade students are making 6×6-inch squares with a numbers-and-letters theme that will be worked into a larger mosaic mural.
This experience has provided our Rockford middle school students a wonderful opportunity to see the value of their art and the importance of community service as they help to create an interesting and healing environment. The hospital plans to hold two “open houses” in December for the local student artists to view the displayed art. For more information visit LaFontsee Galleries at 820 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, or online at www.lafontsee.us.