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M.S. 51 art teacher educates students and community with art exhibit fundraiser

BY HEATHER CHIN AND ELIZABETH COLUCCIO

Art and community have merged at the Old Stone House, where artwork created by M.S. 51 teacher Andrew Hornberger is currently on display in a show called “Creature Comforts,” the opening night of which benefited the school’s art program, which serves students interested in applying to an art-focused high school.

Over $1,000 was raised during the exhibit’s opening night, on November 29, which benefitted the Park Slope middle school’s art program. The funds will go towards art materials and supplies, and perhaps trips for the students, who are in sixth through eighth grades.

The exhibit runs through the end of the year and includes examples of Hornberger’s playful imagery, which often includes “a personal theme of orange and two little black eyes that end up throughout.”

“It used to represent this orange monkey and now it’s become a symbol for anyone or any object coming to life,” explained Hornberger, who has taught art at M.S. 51 for over 12 years while also participating in numerous art shows in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.  “My artwork is based on reality, but I always like to put my own spin on it – it’s a little bit on the line of surrealism, but now it’s a little bit more based on [that] personal theme.”

Being a teacher, he said, “kind of helps perpetuate [my sense of playfulness]… It doesn’t change it so much as it keeps it alive and a fun exploration by poking fun at things.”

The exhibit opening featured live jazz music by Lily White and Richard Bennett, as well as refreshments from Imagine Feasts. According to Kim Maier, executive director at the Old Stone House, the opening was a success and the exhibit is a natural extension of the organization’s purpose of supporting and educating the Brooklyn and Park Slope community.

Arts education “is an important part of developing critical thinking and skills,” she explained. “It lets kids express their creativity, their personal sides as individuals and explore their talents, in a school setting.”

Students at M.S. 51 learn everything from drawing and painting to sculpture and mixed media work, studying cave art up to 20th century art in their three years at school. They hold two public showcases a year, in December and May. Their artwork adorned lightposts along Fifth Avenue this past spring and summer.

For more of Andy Hornberger’s work, visit www.andrewhornberger.com.

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