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art & mindfulness

What is the most challenging part of dealing with the pandemic?  What is the most rewarding and the most difficult part of being a middle school student?  What are your hopes for the upcoming year?  These are a few of the questions posed to all students in Demarest Middle School to introduce the Art & Mindfulness Program in fall 2021.  A series of in-classroom art workshops explored the effects of Covid-19 and offered ways to gain awareness to mindfulness with creativity.  The final art installation was used throughout the academic year as a safe space to explore feelings and emotions.

art connections from a distance

The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed our communication in ways we could never imagine. As human beings we need to connect, to care for one another, to feel hope and security.  A series of art workshops to create mandalas were given remotely to staff and the larger Bergen Family Center community in Englewood, NJ. The project was sponsored by a grant from the Susan K. Black Foundation.  PW: maureen

mandala peace project

The Mandala Peace Project was designed to reach all women, men and children who attend programs at Mercy Center in the South Bronx of NYC. Its primary goal was to introduce hundreds of people who live below the poverty line in the poorest urban congressional district in the country, to the transformative power of art and self-expression. Over 240 people participated in the workshops directed toward self-awareness and self-reflection, influenced by the participant’s cultural heritage and hopes and dreams for a better future. At the heart of the project is the belief that art can nurture families; bringing them unity, security, joy and peace. The project was sponsored by a grant from the Susan K. Black Foundation.


earth day mandalas

Earth Day is an annual event on April 22nd celebrated worldwide in over 193 countries involving over 1 billion people to support protecting the environment. In honor of Earth Day, every student at Dwight-Englewood School created an Earth Day Mandala. Mandalas appear in all aspects of life: the celestial circles of the earth, sun, and moon, as well as circles of friends, family, and community and are found in cultures and religions around the world. Most have 4 quadrants with a center point and often establish a sacred space while being created. All grades from PK3 through Grade 5 were assigned a specific sci­ence-themed animal group that are endangered to inspire their designs.

peace by piece project

Peace by Piece is an ongoing global community art project and traveling exhibition composed of individual canvases depicting expressions of peace. Created after 9/11, the aim of the project is to awaken a compassionate heart in all who participate and view it. Participants, most of whom are not artists, have such varied backgrounds in age, ethnicity, nationality and economic status. It has had over 45 traveling exhibitions in neighborhood centers, schools, houses of worship, conferences, camps and health centers. Each community customizes the use of the exhibition to reinforce their own programs in a one day event or a more long-term program. Many people have sat inside the structure to hold discussions or to simply be inspired by what others have expressed. The project promotes the importance of art and peace and its integral place in our lives.

mandala rock project

Students from Our Lady of Mt Carmel in Tenafly, NJ, from 11 grade levels between ages
3 to 15, participated in a schoolwide art project. River rocks were painted with symmetrical mandala designs. More than a simple circle shape, mandalas represent wholeness and a structure of life itself that reminds us of our relationship to the infinite. Later all the rocks were exhibited in one unifying group installation from over 270 students.

peace + unity school program

Peace themed programs in schools are often aligned with mission statements, academic goals and character development programs. Dwight-Englewood School in NJ has at the heart of its mission statement, the desire for their students to be a community of learners who seek excellence, honor integrity and embrace diversity. D-E Peace + Unity Program involved the entire elementary school from PK3 to Gr5. The goal was to find ways to help students see their commonalities and differences as a means of appreciating both through art, reading and science. The program culminated with a “mindful” assembly and exhibition experience.

the right to dream workshop

The women depicted in these self-portraits began the art workshop at Mercy Center in the South Bronx by discussing fear. Quickly their sharing transformed into hope and a resolute declaration that everyone has the right to dream! A singular word chosen by each participant was torn from the dictionary to add dimension to individual collages. At the core of this workshop was the inherent belief that we all need self-expression and that fear can be transformed into empowerment.

water essence program

For one trimester students in Tenafly, NJ, executed water themed art lessons revolving around the preciousness of water. The care and protection of our natural resource was at the heart of the entire program. Students were introduced to the global statistics about too much or too little water, and the shifting tides of our planet earth. The final exhibition was streams of "paper" water strips hung on a metal frame that encompassed all the works of watercolor paintings of abstractions and landscapes, clay fish and collages.

south bronx portraits from above

Every face, every person, every family matters at Mercy Center, located in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx, the poorest urban congressional district in the USA. Along with filmmakers Nancy Stern and Lisa Lax, we photographed many of the women, men and children. The portraits are mounted on ceiling tiles and displayed through the Center. Over 650 people come through the doors of Mercy Center per week. All eyes look upward at the faces providing a visual inspiration of hope and empowerment. Supported by the MaryAnn & Gordon Rich Family Fund Foundation.

circles of gold + mercy

From 2012-2017 twenty seven women built community through creativity. They attended art workshops at Mercy Center and painted layers upon layers on different canvases. Each stroke was made by a different woman as the canvases were rotated. Together these circles of gold became one large painting. Upon completion this painting and several others were auctioned off at the Annual Gala to raise funds to promote empowerment and transformation. The Center is located in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx, the poorest urban congressional district in the USA.

peace + art + dance exhibition

As part of a district-wide Peace By Piece program, ‘Open Hands for Peace’ involved seven grammar and middle school districts in Bergen County, NJ. Over 1200 students participated in art and social justice programs. One aspect of the project partnered children in NJ with children from Ghana, West Africa, fostering a global awareness of the power of expression. Ultimately the students expressed their voices about peace through various art forms; drawing, painting, writing and dance.

united nations international women’s day

A community of women from Honduras where connected remotely with women in the
South Bronx from the Honduran diaspora. Through art workshops they worked on panels for the Peace By Piece project. In the rural countryside of Honduras the participants started circular weavings with wire and kite string.  Half-way completed, they were sent back to the women in the South Bronx who finished the weavings and painted the frames. Their art panels were displayed in the United Nations NGO office of Mercy Center during International Women’s Day.


peace honduras 49

Inspired by the global community art project, Peace by Piece, the art installation is comprised of 49 resin boxes influenced by the rainbow Peace Flag. When I created this artwork my objective was to re-imagine peace and unify visually the inspirational weavings of women from Honduras and the South Bronx. Each box is made with acrylic paint, resin, paper, laser prints and wood. It is on permanent display at Vanguard Surgical Center in Maywood, NJ, to promote wellness and peace.

special portrait project

The SPECIAL PORTRAIT PROJECT is a creatively inspired project designed for high school students with special needs at the Deron School in Montclair, NJ.  One of the main objectives was to focus on the emotional challenges facing teenagers, many with multiple disabilities (MD), physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, nonverbal learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and down syndrome through art-making.  The project gave students the opportunity to build confidence and self-expression while exploring the emotional impact of making art. Students participated in a multi-staged self-portrait experience; starting with abstract drawings, then realistic photo tracings and ultimately making 3D abstract cardboard using recyclable materials. The project was sponsored by a grant from the Susan K. Black Foundation.

backyard art workshops

As part of my Puffin Foundation Fine Arts Grant 2022, I created Backyard Art Workshops for children and families to promote awareness and advocacy of the natural world. Over the last
400 years many of the invasive plants that have been introduced into NJ have replaced the
native ones and affected the biodiversity of the entire region.  Learning about these plants
brings the climate change crisis into a sharp focus especially so close to home.  My hope is
that when you create with your own hands, a more lasting experience is felt, which can lead
to a love and stewardship of the earth.

states of transformation - women of the south bronx

The portraits are inspired by women I know, women who have touched me with their strength and courage to face adversity. Their faces embody the themes of beauty, peace, fear, justice, community and change. My hope is that these portraits honor their power and spirit.

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