By Jennifer L. Warren
MIDDLETOWN– When Isabella Franqui saw her friends sitting together at her house during her Sweet 16 gathering, she was immediately creatively inspired.
The Pine Bush junior artist Franqui was able to recently bring that vision to life, thanks to the collaborative art exhibit opportunity led by the Orange County Human Rights Commission, who along with SUNY Orange and the Orange County Arts Council, hosted the show, “An Artist’s Response to Human Rights” in celebration of Universal Human Rights Month.
Featuring two showings, one in Newburgh at SUNY Orange’s Orange Hall Gallery, the other starting tomorrow at SUNY’s Newburgh Extension, the Mindy Rose Gallery in Kaplan Hall, the exhibits will run through December 14, 2017.
On Sunday, at the Orange Hall site, an Exhibit Opening and Artist Reception was held. In addition to student artists being on hand to discuss their works, representatives from all three involved agencies were in attendance.
Franqui was one of several students to be awarded with a certificate of involvement at the reception. Selecting her “melting pot” of seated friends for her subject matter, she positioned their images on a bench in her displayed piece which further included each girl holding a sign demonstrating a critical human right.
“I wanted to symbolize that no matter what-their age, gender, etc.- a person can stand up, especially for women’s rights,” explained Franqui as she observed her displayed work. “I did not go to the Women’s March, but did take slogan sayings from it, such as ‘I’m with her.’”
Not only was Franqui pleased to be able to incorporate a host of her friends’ different nationalities, including Native American, Pakistani and Muslim, but she was excited to have the chance to implement a variety of mediums. Allowed to use ink, water colors, colored pencils and paint, the budding artist made the most of the art exhibit’s offerings.
In addition to the medium freedom, students from Orange County based high schools were asked to show one of thirty Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ones adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948.
Based upon the principle that all human beings have fundamental rights and freedoms, the Articles are a common standard of achievement for all people and all nations.
Another artist who captured the essence of one of those Articles was Monroe-Woodbury junior, MacKenzie Nonnon. Depicting a hand holding a key in a padlock, Nonnon’s pastel on cardboard piece used the Human Rights Article on privacy.
“Someone should be in control of the key to their own lock,” said Nonnon, describing her vision. “This is important to show because it gives people a chance to express their beliefs without fear that they should hold back.”
It’s that very catalyst that drives the philosophy capturing the current exhibit at both of these locales.
“This event shows it’s important for students to have their voices heard,” said Inaudy Esposito, Executive Director of the Orange County Human Rights Commission. “They need to be heard on the issues so many face, such as discrimination, intolerance and hatred, which brings people together.”
Sunday, it united a wide sampling of creative young people, sharing their love for art as well as passion for justice and human rights.
“I enjoyed not only seeing my own work displayed, but other students’ work as well,” pointed out Pine Bush Senior, Aidan Rivera, who has two pieces on display at Orange Hall (one on the Third Article- “No one should be held in slavery or servitude and slavery shall be prohibited in all its forms and Fourth Article- “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and property.”) “This show gives everyone the opportunity to show what they can do and what’s on their mind; it also inspired me seeing others’ artwork, giving insights into who they were as people.”