By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – A unique exhibit, “Poetry Observed,” is currently on display at the Shrewsbury Public Library, 609 Main St. This exhibit demonstrates what happens when adolescents are given an opportunity to interact creatively with a piece of artwork through poetry. Opening night for this exhibit was held March 6.
“Students from…Oak Middle School…selected a painting of their choice and then they brainstormed what the message was, based on what they saw in the painting. They then created a poem based on the painting,” explained teacher Maura Egan.
The project involved 97 students who selected a painting from a variety of prints that were easily accessed in the school’s media center. Some of the paintings had multiple poems written for this assignment.
The selection of prints included a variety of artists’ works such as “Delight,” “Zebras and Hyenas,” “Foghorns Fading,” “A New Era of Music” and “Beethoven.”
Another component of the project involved teaching the students how to write a business letter so the students could write to the art museum or gallery where the original painting is on display. The student included their poems along with their letters.
“One of the great things was we sent their letters and poems out to 21 different galleries and museums across the country and we heard back from seven,” Egan added. “The kids’ poetry is really inspirational and beautiful.”
Some of the museums that responded include the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, The San Diego Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Opening night featured a “Pop up Poetry” open mic where some of the students read their poetry. Sydney Giampapa was one of the 20 or so students who participated in the opening night event. She read her poem based on her selected painting, “Fall Euphony” by German artist Hans Hofmann which is currently on display at Stanford University.
“My poem is called ‘Colors and Squares’and what inspired me were all the different colors. It really caught my eye,” Giampapa said. “People, they care about their differences and the squares are all squares on the outside but on the inside they are all different just like humans.”
“I chose the painting ‘Rainy Night’ because the person in the center of the painting really called to me right away because the person didn’t feel like they were an insider… they felt like they were on the outside and that they weren’t as worthy as other people were,” noted Mary Jane Pratt who also shared her poem during the “Pop Up Poetry.”
The exhibit will be on display through the end of March, on the first floor outside the main meeting rooms.