Art students bring animal magic to “playground of dreams”


Art students bring animal magic to “playground of dreams”

April 30, 2019

Group photo of students holding their paintings of animals outside.What’s a children’s outdoor space without some animal magic? Woodland animals imagined by Warwick Valley High School students in Kristen Spano’s drawing and painting class are moving into the new Stanley-Deming Park playground this spring.

The students’ creative contribution to the space was invited by Warwick Playground Dreams, the non-profit organization leading the rejuvenation of the old playground. Community-designed and built, accessible and adaptive to varying ability levels, the new playground is intent on stretching the imaginations of all of Warwick’s children.

Indeed, the students’ painted woodland animals that will soon populate Stanley-Deming are sure to conjure up myriad questions and stories in the minds of playground users, and endure as fond childhood memories.   

“It’s really cool that the animals we painted are going to be in the park for years to come and so many kids are going to be able to experience them,” said Leigh Anne Tannar, the author of the raccoon and bear paintings.

To withstand the elements, the artworks were created using latex paint on exterior-grade, weather-resistant plywood paneling.Drawings, illustrations of animals spread out on a table surrounded by art supplies

Some students drew from their own childhood experiences to inspire their paintings. “I chose a newt because I used to go to the stream and look for them with my grandpa and sister,” Drew Powers said. “I had a great time with this project, and I think it’s super cool to have a piece of artwork in the park I grew up going to.”

Matthew Polka took a more whimsical approach to his choice of animal, echoing the “dream” theme of the park project. “The dragon has always been a symbol of childhood wonder and I’m channeling that,” Matthew said. “Kids need wonder to inspire them, so they can inspire us in return. Really, all artists are kids on the inside.”

Connected by their shared passion for the arts, the students encouraged each other’s individual expression to put forth a diverse body of work for their community’s enjoyment.  

“It was a fantastic experience seeing all these artists with various styles coming together with the common ideal of community and giving back through art,” said Will Rogers who painted a likable-enough turkey vulture.

For a student who is still new to Warwick, the spirit of the project validated first impressions of their new town. “My sister and I just moved to the area last year, and we felt the warmth of this community right away,” said Emily Redpath, the illustrator of the cricket-frog. “We are humbled by the dedication of the art teachers in this program and honored to be a part of this project.”  









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