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Student Artists Channel Their Views on Contemporary Issues

LI Middle and High School Students Explore Expression Through Art

“Soldier Children” by Raquel Veliz Gonzales of Roosevelt High School.

Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY … In spring 2012 Long Island middle and high school students were invited by Hofstra University to submit works of art that illustrate what they consider to be the most challenging issues facing the United States today. These works were featured in a fall exhibition at Hofstra titled Social Realism 2012 that was on display at Hofstra’s Axinn Library and Hagedorn Hall, through October 18, 2012. The exhibition was presented by Hofstra’s Art Education Program, the Center for Civic Engagement, the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the Hofstra Cultural Center.

Social Realism 2012 was held in conjunction with the Presidential Debate Hofstra hosted on October 16. Susan Goetz Zwirn, Associate Professor of Art Education invited middle and high school students, from Nassau and Suffolk Counties, through their art teachers, to submit works of art for this exhibition, designed to broaden and enrich political debate. Students were invited to participate in Hofstra’s Expressions in Democracy program by submitting art works that convey what they consider to be the challenging issues facing the United States today in a personally meaningful way.

Historically, the arts have played a pivotal role in expressing the yearnings of people and sometimes even changed the course of history. During the 1930s the U.S. government employed as many as 5,000 artists to travel the country and depict what they saw. This artwork came to be known as Social Realism. Inspired by this movement, Hofstra University Associate Professor of Art Education Susan Goetz Zwirn invited these Long Island students to become the Social Realists of 2012.

Social Realism 2012 contest winners and honorable mentions were:

Raquel Veliz Gonzales
Soldier Children
Teacher: Barbara Evans
Roosevelt High School
First Place

Ericka Garcia
Legalization 4 All
(Occupy Wall Street)
Teacher: Heather Evans
East Hampton High School
Second Place

Cynthia Lau
Street Life
Teacher: Beth Atkinson
Hicksville High School
Third Place

Amanda Pathmanathan
Teacher: Ms Regina Nicholas
Farmingdale High School
Honorable Mention

Miguel Sison
The Dream Act
Teacher: Paulette Lowe
South High School
Valley Stream
Honorable Mention

Kristine Jao
…And Justice for All
Teacher: Beth Atkinson
Hicksville High School
Honorable Mention

A small ceremony was held for the student artists, their families and art teachers on October 15. All participants were given a certificate and letter honoring their participation in the exhibit and the six students artists who were contest winners received gift certificates totaling $350 from Dick Blick Art Materials.

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