The artworks were created during a lonely time. COVID-related lockdown in Lima, Peru had left artist Paola Denegri isolated, unable to even walk in the streets of the vibrant capital city she calls home. As she turned to sketching and stitching, transforming Japanese paper into colorful, multi-layered masterpieces, Denegri depicted more joyful times. And today those works have turned the tables on that isolation, drawing gallery-goers and Brooks School students to Denegri, and to each other.
Denegri's exhibit — titled "Volaverunt," which translates to something that is missing, has left or has flown away — opened in the Robert Lehman Art Center on February 18, with an in-person reception with the artist. The exhibit will remain on display through March 5.
Reserve a time to visit the Robert Lehman Art Center gallery
During the first few days, art classes and Spanish language classes have already met with Denegri to discuss the works, Peruvian culture and life during COVID.
"It is important that our students open their horizons and explore different cultures and this exhibit was a path in that direction," said Spanish teacher Lillian Miller (in photo above, third from left; Denegri is fourth from left).
Miller was integral to bringing the "Volaverunt" exhibit and Denegri to Brooks. The two have been friends since kindergarten in Peru, where Miller was born and raised. "It was wonderful to have my childhood friend at Brooks School!" she said.
It's been a boon for students, too. In addition to working with students in the Arts Exploratory program, 2D art, painting and AP studio art classes to help them learn more about artistic inspiration and how to create their own Japanese paper collage works, Denegri held Spanish class sessions in the gallery. "I loved seeing how my students were able to communicate in the Spanish language," shared Miller, who coordinates Brooks' School Year Abroad programs and holds the school's Richard F. Holmes Chair.
Thanks to Denegri "they were able to appreciate art from a different country and appreciate the talent of a Peruvian artist," she added. "The classes really enjoyed learning about her work."
The opportunity to discuss art in Spanish was great practice for students learning the language, at multiple levels. AP Spanish students participated in Denegri's tutorials during their class time, as well as those in second- and third-level Spanish honors classes.
Denegri spoke Spanish exclusively during a couple of the class visits and Miller was happy to report that her students "had excellent questions and were able to understand Paola" with ease.
Denegri's time as a visiting artist at Brooks was sponsored by the Lehman Gallery Fund.
"This was an awesome opportunity for the students," added fellow Spanish teacher Nieves Rios-Moya, whose honors Spanish class met with Denegri in the Lehman gallery prior to the exhibit opening on Friday. "Immersion experience, right here at Brooks!"
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In July, Nina Hanlon will join Brooks as assistant head of school. Learn all about her experience, expertise and why she's "so excited to be joining such a warm and welcoming community."