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Cincinnati high school students' Black History Month art to be auctioned off as fundraiser for arts program

James N. Gamble Montessori Black History Month art
Posted at 11:47 PM, Mar 03, 2023

CINCINNATI — A Black History Month art project for high school students turned into a fundraiser, with hopes of expanding the school's visual arts program.

"I'm very proud of my work," said Naya Hopkins, a 9th grader at James N. Gamble Montessori. "I like to step outside of my comfort zone and so with this, I wanted to go all out. So neon colors, pearlescents and big, bright colors."

Hopkins and her classmates in Cheri Smyth's art class have been working on these pieces, celebrating famous Black figures and moments, since coming back from winter break. Smyth said it's great to see her vision for her students come to life.

"I've been planning Black History Month for this school year for about a year," Smyth said. "I wanted to showcase our students but also celebrate Black History month, Black figures from past and present and upcoming."

Many times these types of projects can be predictable, but Smyth said letting the students paint their generation's impactful figures made all the difference.

"I'm trying to be a barber, that's what I'm going to school for," Devon Miller-Adams said. "It helped me on the little details because as a barber you have to pay attention to the close, small details."

Now their art hangs throughout the hallways, waiting for a buyer.

Teachers, students and visitors can bid on the artwork for the next few days and the money comes right back to Gamble Montessori.

"We would like to expand our visual arts department, especially in ceramics so students can learn how to throw on the wheel," Smyth said.

"I've seen people use pottery wheels on TikTok so it would just be cool to experience on my own," 10th grader Morgan Pennington said.

Other than extra supplies, Smyth said it's been a joy to see the same light in their eyes she had when she realized painting was her passion.

Seeing someone go the extra mile, a student go the extra mile," Smyth said. "It makes me very, very proud as an art teacher."

If the students can raise enough money for pottery wheels, the art they create on them will be sold in the Montessori Market, the school's microeconomy.

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