SALEM, Mass. (AP) - Gray and windowless- that’s how Deborah Noyes describes the Probate and Family Court’s temporary quarters at Shetland Park, where she works as a case specialist and adoption clerk.
And that’s why she applied for a $3,000 innovation grant- which she was awarded -from the Massachusetts Trial Court to fund “Connecting the Court to the Community through Art,” a project to brighten up the space with artwork from local artists and art students.
“When I read about the innovation grant, I thought what an opportunity to be able to connect with the community and what better way than through artwork,” said Noyes.
When she explained her idea to local artists and teachers, the response was positive. One of the first people to jump on the idea was Pascale Queval, the lead art teacher and adviser for the National Art Honor Society at Marblehead High School.
When she answered Noyes’ call and Noyes said was from the court, Queval joked, she wondered what she had done wrong. But once Noyes explained the reason for the call, Queval was intrigued.
“I think that artists have a role in the community, and it’s always difficult to get kids who are in the school to branch out,” Queval said. “I thought this is a perfect opportunity to show their talent and give the community something useful.”
Queval thought it would make a perfect senior project for her students, and the four students she approached about it agreed. Queval applied for her own grant- $600 award from the school’s parents council -and they began working on their idea to create fake windows showing colorful outside scenes, with the theme of “bring the outside in.”
Each student painted two 4-foot-by-5-foot windows with scenes set in different times of the day. Olivia Sahovey painted a forest in the morning, Lily Dolin painted Boston Common at noon, Varni painted a “secret garden” at sunset, and Lindy Miller painted a lighthouse/seaside scene at night. Noyes’ son, Anthony Genest, owner of Wood and Stone, created the window frames for the paintings.
They were hung in the court’s main waiting room last week.
“The office was open. People were coming and going, some were crying- and here we were hanging these paintings, and people got so interested and kept saying, ‘It’s so beautiful,’” said Queval. “People were really receptive.”
Noyes is pleased with the students’ work.
“They were able to take in what I had talked about, able to understand that people coming here may not be in a happy place, and they created paintings so that someone here could escape what their reality might be for maybe a minute,” said Noyes.
Most of the people who come to this court are in a crisis, she explained, and one of the main reasons she wanted to bring art to the court was to cheer them up.
It seems to have worked. Diane Harvey of Beverly was at court with her son the other day, and said she appreciated the paintings.
“The art gives us a sense of peace,” she said, “and makes us feel a little more relaxed, takes away some of our anxiety.”
Marblehead students weren’t the only ones to respond.
Students from Peabody High created a mural with the theme of “Justice for All.” Two students from Salem Academy contributed works. Local artists also submitted photos, paintings and drawings to line the hallway outside the waiting room. There’s even a horse sculpture made from willow tree saplings.
The local artists’ works will be part of a rotating exhibit, due to change seasonally. The students’ work will be kept and taken back to the courthouse on Federal Street once the renovation work going on there is completed.
Information from: The Salem (Mass.) News, https://www.salemnews.com
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