Student Talent on Full Display at FDA VIII


On Thursday, May 23rd, Frederick Douglass Academy VIII (FDA) hosted a pop-up art gallery within their 4th floor hallway, displaying a cumulative collection of their students’ work. Attendees were greeted by the bright smile of their hostess, art instructor Courtney Schubert, and live tunes by a student cellist and a violinist. Each of these elements created an elegant ambiance resembling an exclusive gallery found in down-town Brooklyn. There were even refreshments and freshly baked snacks provided to visitors.

FDA VIII’s visual arts program focuses on teaching students about different types of painting techniques. According to the Common Core Standards for Art, the students are required to demonstrate their independent understanding of the art project, including: content knowledge, value evidence, a sense of problem solving, using model mathematics, applying appropriate tools strategically, and to express reasoning.

“I want my students to continue to grow as individuals, to take risks, and to learn something they didn’t know before,” Schubert said.

The scholars studied still life through pointillism, a famous technique developed in 1886 by Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, which branched from the art movement Impressionism. The students painted fruit, flowers, and even skulls using this method. Skulls happened to be a powerful image that many of the teens embraced, depicting the skeletal vertebrae of an animal, a comic interpretation of the Grim Reaper, and intricate patterns indicative of Dia De Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead).

Schubert believes that given the chance, everyone can learn some-thing about themselves through art. One student, Shahriza Mashafi exclaimed, “I never really knew that I could do this, until I really tried,” during FDA VIII’s quality review of the Art Department.

Mashafi, Aaron Champagnie, and Julia Stewart were three students Schubert chose to have their work entered into the Brooklyn Borough Arts Festival. This festival is an annual event sponsored by the NYC Department of Education and Chancellor Richard Carranza, featuring outstanding artwork from all Brooklyn school districts in grades pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

Schubert felt that these three scholars were her best students, who were dedicated to their craft and could handle competition’s expectations. The Brooklyn Borough Arts Festival chose to exhibit Mashafi’s eyes portrait, and Champagnie’s cubist self-portrait. The panel of judges were so impressed with FDA VIII’s sub-missions that they made Champagnie’s artwork the cover of their program.

Attendees at FDA VIII’s art gallery were able to see the Brooklyn Borough Arts Festival’s brochure cover with Campagnie’s art on display, as well as the other entrants’ paintings. In addition to enjoying the display of cubist paintings, sumi-e East Asian ink wash style, and clay sculptures, visitors were also able to purchase raffle ticks for a chance to win a glossy print of the scholars’ art work.

Photos by Amanda Moses