The public is being invited to make art with local artist John Donato on Monday, Dec. 10, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The “Moving Pastels” Community Night will be hosted at Southern Delaware School of the Arts in Selbyville.
“Anyone who wants to come in can come in and join us. … I really enjoy bringing community in here,” said Principal Travis Bower. “All are welcome. It’s a great way to support the arts and learn what we do at SDSA.”
The Moving Pastels Project lets people create their own self-portraits as a fish, paired with a character trait that best describes them. Afterward, the pictures and photos will be strung together into a video for the school.
Known for colorful and whimsical artworks, lead artist John Donato has also previously overseen schoolwide murals in a number of area schools, often sponsored by the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation. Since SDSA has students in all grades up to eighth, the older students will likely remember working with Donato about four years ago.
“He brings a unique spin and vibe to every project he does,” said Bower, “and just the enthusiasm he has — the students open up to him.”
The cartoon fish are truly self-portraits, created in chalk pastels. Although they aren’t human, the fish shows personality though the fins, eyes and other little details. The creation truly involves self-reflection on the children’s part, as they consider how they feel and appear to the world.
“The idea is to really help them understand themselves … and be more confident and at ease with themselves,” Donato said while at Selbyville Middle School in October, “and convince them they can do [such self-reflective art], because they can.”
“‘Growth mindset’ is centered around making sure that everyone knows it’s OK to make mistakes,” Bower said. “Failure is not an option — it’s just a step in the process. That’s something John really works for. … It’s something I see in a lot of his projects.
“I think it’s a great opportunity. We are an arts school,” Bower continued. “We do a lot with performing arts, and it’s great to have another opportunity for visual arts with all students. Anything we can do to bring in local artists … is a great experience for our students.”
Bower also praised the generosity of Donato, who has helped schools fundraise, both to benefit their mural projects and other school activities.
People can contract Bower for more information, at (302) 436-1066. SDSA is located at 27 Hosier Street, Selbyville.
By Laura Walter