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Giving Matters: SEPIA Brings Art To Kids And The Community


Emilia Ornellas is a student teacher at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. She works with middle and high school students in the Student Enrichment Program in the Arts, also known as SEPIA. She explains that the program offers art classes Manchester students grades K-12.

DhahiroOsman is an outgoing student who participated in the SEPIA program. Her interest? Self-improvement. “I thought that I’d give it a try, because I’m not a good artist; I thought this might be my chance to be good at it.”

Ornellas emphasizes that there is no prerequisite for the program, “we saw kids who came in and said ‘I can’t even draw a stick figure.’ ” But she says they each go on their own journey of discovery, exploring each medium without inhibitions, and in the end “make some really valuable pieces as a result.”

One of the projects is for the students to create a collage. Osman describes a collaborative process among the students each taking inspiration from the kid sitting next to them. Her secret to success is a simple mantra, “I just didn’t think all the negative stuff, I just thought of the positive. Like, ‘this is going to look really nice.’ And then I did it!”

At the end of the program, Ornella and her colleagues frame pieces from each of the students and assembles an exhibit at the Millyard Museum in Manchester. Osman was impressed when she saw her collage on the wall, “it was pretty awesome, because people were so amazed that a student did this. And it just gives you a good feeling.” The pride in her voice is evident in her voice, “for doing something I’ve never done before.”

“Art is about more than just fun time, it can also express a side of you that no one has ever seen before and that’s a pretty nice feeling.”

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