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Teaticket Art Gallery Shines a Light on Creativity

Teaticket Art Gallery Shines a Light on Creativity 

By Sarah E. Murphy 

 Teaticket Art Teacher Julie Duffany with student in front of art hung on a wallA Falmouth Education Foundation mini-grant is making a lasting impact at Teaticket Elementary School. 

Teaticket art teacher Julie Duffany was awarded funding for the 2022-2023 school year to establish the “Painted Paws Art Gallery.” The grant covered the cost of twelve frames for a rotating exhibit of work by students in kindergarten through grade four. 

One of the main goals of the project is to showcase what is produced in the art room beyond the confines of that environment, in a high-traffic area and a place of prominence. To that end, the art is displayed in the main office, in addition to the administrative offices of Assistant Principal/Special Education Building Administrator Krista Connelly and Principal Sandy Kapsambelis.

The Painted Paws Gallery opened with an inaugural exhibit in November 2022. Each show kicks off with an artist’s reception, to which the students and their families are invited. The exhibit will change three times a year, to coincide with grading periods. The next show will feature twelve new artists in March.

There are no specific qualifications for acceptance to the gallery. Instead, Ms. Duffany bases her decision on the overall impact of a piece. 

“I choose whatever speaks to me; there’s no real rhyme or reason. The work is so joyful, and this grant is a chance to highlight kids in our school who might not get recognized as often as others,” she said. 

She added that in her capacity as an art educator, she witnesses a wide and unique array of skills and talents on a daily basis. 

“Some teachers don’t have the opportunity to see their kids in a creative role. They might just know some of them as students who struggle in math, for example. This is a way to highlight the areas they do thrive in,” she said.

Additionally, Ms. Duffany believes celebrating student work by replicating a gallery setting, complete with an artist’s reception, emphasizes the value of art, not only as a means of creative expression in an academic setting, but also as a contribution to society and a potential career path. 

“It’s beautiful to see something as a finished piece. They all look so professional in the frames,” she said.

“And it’s really fun to see the kids at the reception, showing their work to their families and having their photos taken. Since we have so many frames, at least 36 kids will be able to experience that each year, and we can continue or expand on the grant in the future.”

Ms. Duffany stages a school-wide art show every year at the end of May to showcase the work of all of her students, however, the gallery offers a permanent and ongoing way to emphasize the importance of creativity. 

The Painted Paws Gallery is funded through FEF’s Teacher Opportunity Fund (TOF), one of two types of mini-grants that are awarded throughout the academic year for smaller projects with budgets ranging from $25 to $350. Applications may be submitted between September and June 1, with a response time of about two weeks. Funding must be utilized within the same academic year.

Ms. Duffany emphasized the straightforward nature of the FEF grant application process. 

“I encourage anyone who has ever considered applying for a grant to do it. FEF offers workshops, and they coach you to get the ball rolling,” she said. 

“They’re so helpful, and they make it really easy.” 

This is the third FEF grant Ms. Duffany has been awarded; she applied for her first grant in 2015 when she was a fourth grade teacher at Teaticket seeking funding for iPads to integrate technology in the classroom with cross-curricular ELA, a method which she continues to utilize in the art room. 

Ms. Duffany is grateful to Falmouth Education Foundation for its support of initiatives large and small. Since 2006, FEF has funded over 800 teacher-created projects totaling 1.5 million dollars. Thirty-two project grants and more than 80 mini grants are currently being funded for the 2022-2023 school year. 

“FEF allows us to do things that aren’t funded within our budget. Without them, so many of these things wouldn’t be possible,” she said. 

Secretary to the Principal Dawn Williamson and Special Education Secretary Brooke McCarthy appreciate how the art transforms the office, for they both have the chance to view it on a regular basis. They are also impressed by the caliber of work. 

“It’s so refreshing, and it really brightens everyone’s day,” Ms. Williamson said. 

Ms. McCarthy agreed. 

“I”m so proud of the kids and all that they’ve produced. It’s so impressive to see what they’ve created,” she said. 

Third-grader River Katz captured a typical day in class with a still-life of brightly-colored art supplies. Jada Headley also sought inspiration from her surroundings, captured in a mixed-media painting of the Teaticket playground. 

For fourth-grader Carolyn Kirincich, the gallery offers a glimpse into her future. 

“I want to be an artist when I grow up,” she said. 

When she’s not expressing herself in Ms. Duffany’s class, she’s pursuing her interest at Falmouth Art Center, where she takes classes in printmaking. Nature art is one medium she gravitates to, for it allows her to address her concerns about climate change and make a statement, evidenced by her vibrant tempera depiction of the iconic protagonist from “The Lorax,” by Dr. Seuss. 

“We all live on this planet, and we all have to take care of it,” she said.

The 2023 Falmouth Education Foundation Winter Gala is Saturday, March 18, 2023 at the Coonamessett Inn, honoring Falmouth community supporters, Barbara and Gary Schneider. The event is FEF’s only annual fundraiser. For more information, visit falmoutheducationfnd.org.

Sarah E. Murphy
s_murphy@falmouth.k12.ma.us