Empty Bowls and painted trays: Mela Artisans and Long Trail partner in art project

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DORSET — Instead of owning a damaged, plain, decorative tray, you can now own one with a replica of a well-known painting on it, courtesy of Long Trail School art students.

In the fall, Mela Artisans donated roughly 100 wooden trays, rectangle and circle shaped, to the school for a collaborative project that will be involved in the upcoming Empty Bowls event. The school has hosted it almost every year since 2007.

The painted trays will be auctioned off or won through a raffle drawing during the Empty Bowls event. Proceeds will benefit three organizations: Stratton Foundation, BROC Community Action in Southwestern Vermont and the Community Share Project out of the United Church of Dorset and East Rupert.

A shipment arrived at Mela Artisans — that sells unique home decor and lifestyle products — with various chips and damages that made them unsellable.

Long Trail students were then tasked with recreating a painting on the inside base of the trays.

Middle schoolers were required to use maps to create an image and the older students had to research a painter and pick one of their pieces to recreate.

For example, McKinley Bremel reported on surrealist painter Rene Magritte from Belgium, who is most known for "Son of Man" — a man in a suit, tie and bowler hat with a green apple covering the facial features. Bremel said the painting is a self-portrait of Magritte.

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Bremel recreated the portrait on his tray and added a red border.

Another art student, Griff McClellan, chose Henri Matisse's "Icarus" for his project.

Sophomore Rebecca Salzer has been busy going over layers of paint in her piece inspired by modern artist Sol Lewitt. She said she penciled various squares that follow a colorful pattern, one block after the other.

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Lewitt focused on conceptual art and minimalism using a variety of medium that included drawing, printmaking, painting and photography. His vibrant wall drawings are widely popular in museum exhibits around the world.

Three black or white silhouette with and `X' for an eye is painted on another tray. The image stems from a former street artist Brian Donnelly, or KAWS. Donnelly has designed toys and clothing for well-known brands such as Nike, Vans, A Bathing Ape, Undercover and more.

Sophomore Michael Daley hopes to become a shoe designer because he likes them and clothes, which is why he chose the artist.

"It's like a quick strike, he calls it. But its two `X's' for eyes," Daley said. "He does a lot of these figurines that kinda look like soldiers with skulls."

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The figures resemble Mickey Mouse, which is due to the fact that Donnelly worked as a freelance animator for Disney after graduating from college in 1996.

About 10 upper level students participate in Anharad Llewelyn's art class and 27 middle school students in her other class.

Long Trail first held an Empty Bowls event in 2007 and after 2011, they decided to host it every other year. It raises between $10 and $12,000 each year and in total has accumulated more than $90,000 with upwards of 3,000 bowls filled.

The event aims to raise money for hunger related charities through a $12 admission fee. Attendees receive soup, bread, dessert, live entertainment and a handmade bowl to take home, according to the Long Trail's website. More than 20 local restaurants contribute to providing soup and bread.

Northshire Empty Bowls is on March 25 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Long Trail School.

Reach staff writer Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-490-6471 or @MC_McGeeney.


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