Kathy Grantham - North County News
than two dozen old wooden doors found new life as an art
project for Peekskill area children. A reception
was held for the "Doors of the Future" exhibit last
Saturday at the Hudson River HealthCare / Peekskill
Community Health Center.
A door is not just a door, it can be a canvas. In the
creative imaginings of artist Wilfredo Morel, it became
a way to show a child "you're worth something."
A sculptor with the City of Peekskill, Morel said, "My
art is used to bring community together and breach the
gap between community and services. This concept 'Doors
of the Future' allows the children to express themselves
artistically, their hope for the future, and how they'd
like this world to change, from the homelessness and
tragedies to a better life for people."
Lured by the opportunity to create a personal form of
art, kids came from the Peekskill area to create a
personal form of art.
was time to talk and to explore before painting. It was
a collaboration of artists like Morel, Barbara Close
Lepak, Cindy Booth and Dina Bursztyn that provided the
teaching, enthusiasm and structure for this project.
Bursztyn, an artist on the roster of the Westchester
Arts Council, spent six weeks with the very young
children, getting them to talk about themselves, their
hopes and dreams, and their favorite objects, colors and
patterns before they dipped a brush into paint.
"There was no money to buy anything but primary
colors," explained Morel, "but we taught the kids to
combine colors to make other colors, a mind-blowing
experience for them."
This project was also very cost-effective, using
recycled materials, like newspaper, making their own
glue, and painting on old doors donated by Toddville
Antique and Craft Centre.
Children developed their individual concepts through
sketching, writing and painting and photographs, using
the doors as a functional tool to tell their stories. It
was an opportunity for them to openly and publicly share
their dreams, to come together with their peers,
explaining their own self-concepts, supervised by
In the tumbled hurry of daily life, not much time is
made available for quiet introspection. "Doors of the
Future" has served as an artistic vehicle to encourage
youngsters in both visualizing and expressing their
desires about life. In this program, participants had
time for private reflection, which ultimately led to a
sharing of their aspirations for the future with others
through the visual arts.
The youngsters interacted with everyone
--their peers, friends and family -- during the 20 week project to
create a "door to the future." While working on this project, they
were supervised by Dina Bursztyn, the artist-in-residence, a staff
member, and guest artists, with volunteers from the Comite Latino,
ArneriCorps Vista members and the community.
Welcoming all visitors to
the reception was artist Barbara
Close Lepak's gold sculpture of a woman bursting forth from the
door, symbolizing a breaking through.
"To live a
creative full life," Lepak says, "You have to accept challenges, and
go through, you cannot stay where you are. Fear will hold you back,
and that is a kind of death."
Lepak is an
adult teaching artist who works with the 'Kids Bridge Program'
through the Health Center.
Parrilla, 7 years old, named her door, "Swirly World," explaining
the colors she used. "Black is when I'm sad," and all the other
colors make her happy.
Viktoria Toya Lozado already knows what she wants and what she
likes. Ladybugs, flowers and hands, a rainbow and a heart are
painted on her door.
Maria Oquendo is 12 years old and will enter Peekskill Middle School in
September. She loves music and art, and was inspired to paint a
rainbow run to the sky.
student, Vanessa Grant, 11, painted a very large castle on her door,
certain that no one else would think of this design.
16, a student at Walter Panas High School considered the whole door
to represent her outlook on the power of love and life. "One side of
my door consists of a poem I wrote about life. The other side of my
door is a woman symbolizing love. This perspective has been inspired
by my recent experience with love, and my almost reborn
Camino, 6, painted a dinosaur because "I love dinosaurs." He
painted an an gel because "I wanted an angel above my bed to
Natasha, 3, shared the project with her grandmother Teresa Espejo
who said, "My door consists of many different colors and shapes,
representing the many emotions and thoughts I have within myself."
7, painted a birthday cake because "my birthday is my favorite
day," a butterfly because she loves nature, and the woman on stilts
is a memory of her visit to the circus.
with an armful of library books, was emphatic about the house he
dreams about, "I painted my house in Peekskill," he said.
"We want to
let other communities know what we can do with things that we tend
to ignore," said Morel. "When you walk through a door, you can
change your life." Planning for "Doors of the Future" to become a
traveling exhibit, he's hoping to display them at the site of the
Westchester Arts Council in White Plains.
the Future" will be open for public viewing Fridays, July 21, 28 and
August 4, from 1 to 5 p.m.; Saturdays, July 22, 29 and August 5,
from 10 to 3. The exhibit is located in the storefront site
adjacent to Hudson River HealthCare/Peekskill Community Health
Center located at 1037 Main Street in Peekskill.
Additional information is available by calling 734-8736.