Artist in Residence program a success at Myers Elementary School

For more than 10 years, the third grade students at Myers Elementary School have been welcoming professional artists into their classroom for the Artist in Residence program.
Last week, the students opened the doors for Halfmoon Township resident Alyce Ritti, who brought samples of her award winning mixed-media collage collection to share, and also offer some pointers to the aspiring young artists.
“At this age, these kids are impressionable,” said Ritti. “This is a great opportunity for me to show the young people that art isn’t always about painting and drawing. There are so many different forms and finding which inspires you most is all part of the fun.
“I hope some of these students see that what I’m doing is also art and a fulfilling professional life for me.”
Ritti studied art at the School of Visual Arts at Pennsylvania State University. Her award winning work can be seen throughout the United States and Europe.
Her work was accepted in Her Mark, published by Woman Made Gallery in Chicago. Her shows include the First Prize Solo Show at The Stage Gallery in Merrick, N.Y,; Images 2002 at the Robeson Gallery at Penn State University; the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh exhibition at the Andy Warhol Museum; and the 2002 Salon d’Automne in Paris.
Her influences have been European and American rather than Asian because the clash and clatter of daily life have fueled her work.
“My mixed media pieces continue the collage tradition of critiquing human folly,” said Ritti. “They are small statements on large themes.”
Ritti’s work is easily distinguishable.
She said with her passing years, she has developed a comic spirit and the unusual materials of mixed-media allows her to deal with serious subjects in playful ways.
Her works are constructed out of any material imaginable – found objects, fabric, paper, paint, beads, ribbons, lace and feathers.
“The frequently surreal images are always eye-catching and usually witty,” she said.
The works demonstrated at Myers Elementary last week captured the essence of the “Seven Deadly Sins.”
According to Terri Harpster, principal at Myers Elementary, the more than 100 third grade students spend a lot more time in the art room during Artist in Residence Week than their regular 40 minutes per week. Last week, Harpster said the students had the opportunity to construct their own mixed-media collages – all under the watchful eye of Ritti.
“Their work was very impressive,” said Harpster. “It’s amazing what these kids can produce.”
On Friday, the week concluded with presentations to all the students in the school. This presentation included a slide show with explanations of some of Ritti’s work and a student-led parade through the cafeteria, that allowed the students to view the third graders’ artwork of the week.
“This is a much different style than I would normally teach the third graders,” said elementary art teacher Nancy Smith. “But we are glad to have someone that can show the children a different idea of what art is. We have some exceptionally artistic students here, and some have really picked up on her concept.”
As a showing of her gratitude, Ritti donated four pieces of her artwork for display at the school.