Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — In the back of Kelly Tomasello’s room at Starpoint Middle School, there are poster boards covered in paper mache hearts. The hearts vary in size and appearance, but almost all of the hearts are black.
There are some items that appear on or next to the hearts, such as Band-aids or tape measures. Words are seen with the hearts, like “hopeless,” “different” or “hurt.” But there’s also “hope,” “beautiful” and “love.”
The hearts are one of the student-made exhibits that will be shown this fall at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. The gallery’s education wing will showcase all kinds of different works, all of which will have a common theme: bullying.
The idea behind “Healing Hearts: From Hurt to Hope” is simple, said Tomasello, one of the teachers involved in putting the show together.
“A big collaborative anti-bullying show with the students’ voices being heard through their art,” she said.
The show runs Sept. 10 through Sept. 29, with a reception to be held from 2 until 4:30 p.m. Sept. 28.
The show will also run during the second anniversary of Jamey Rodemeyer’s death. Rodemeyer was a freshman at Williamsville North High School when he committed suicide as a result of constant bullying. Rodemeyer was known for his activism against homophobia and his videos on YouTube to help victims of bullying.
Last year around this time, the Tomasellos both came home a little worn out after a long day. They were talking about their day when they realized they both started similar bullying projects that day. They were also teaching their students about Rodemeyer.
“We were both teaching about the same thing and introducing it the same way,” Tomasello said.
Not too long after that, Tomasello said she came across a poem written about Rodemeyer. Finally, Tomasello said, it was decided a collaborative art show would be held, but the show would be a way for students to voice their stories and thoughts on bullying.
Talking about character education is great, but sometimes kids just want to talk, Tomasello said. When the project was introduced, before any work began, students in Tomasello’s class started by just talking about being bullied or discussing someone they knew who was bullied.
Next, Tomasello reached out to other schools about participating.
“A lot said absolutely,” Tomasello said. “There’s so many different projects.”
Schools from all over the area are getting involved. For example, students in Lockport City Schools and the Kenmore-Tonawanda School District are hard at work, creating pieces for the show. For example, Edison Elementary fifth-graders, in a class taught by Tomasello’s husband Rich, are creating small toys and action figures. Among those toys include mirrors that let you choose to be a bully or a hero.
There is still room for other schools to join, Tomasello said. Teachers who to participate can email Tomasello at email@example.com or her husband Rich at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the end of September, there will be some related performances as well, Tomasello said.HEALING HEARTS: From Hurt to Hope • WHAT: A student art show focusing on bullying, discrimination, abuse and healing • WHEN: Show runs from Sept. 10 until Sept. 29, with a reception from 2 until 4:30 p.m. Sept. 28 • WHERE: Albright-Knox Art Gallery's Education Exhibition Hallway, 1285 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.