Wednesday, July 21, 2010


By Scott O’Connell
Posted Jul 16, 2010 @ 10:33 AM

Framingham resident Donna Sarti smiled as she recalled the first time she realized her son Andrey’s artistic talent.

“He had never really been into it before,’’ said Sarti, who added Andrey had difficulty with the technical aspects of drawing. “He was a kid who I never thought would have artistic talent. But last year, I couldn’t believe it - he had been invited to an art show.”

Andrey’s pizza box Taj Mahal was featured in a “green” art exhibit at the Newton YMCA.

On Monday, Andrey’s art was featured once again, this time at an art show at the Learning Center for the Deaf in Framingham, where he is a fifth-grader.

Now in its sixth year, the annual show gives the school’s deaf students like Andrey a chance to share their art.

“Deaf children are very visual,” said art teacher Mary Silvestri, who organizes the show. Art gives them a way to express themselves, she added, speaking through an interpreter at the show Monday.

“It’s also important for the parents to see their capabilities,” Silvestri said. “Sometimes they’re surprised to see their child’s artwork.”

This year’s show was held in the school’s gymnasium, where tables and walls adorned with student artwork were set up Monday. The show’s usual venue at the childhood center was unavailable this year due to ongoing renovations at the building.

Due to the construction the show was also held later this year; the school only has a week of classes left until summer break.

All of the featured art was made in Silvestri’s classes, and represented each of the school’s K-12 grades.

Ninth-grader Elaina Fisher was at the show Monday to show her painting, a colorful depiction of an African sunset.

“I’m satisfied with it - I really like scenes of nature,” she said. Fisher added she tends to like to work in black and white, however - “I sometimes think color can destroy a picture.”

Elaina, who prefers to draw in pencil, is also a fan of animation and comics.

“We try to touch on different mediums,” said Silvestri. Each art show also has a unique theme; this year’s focused on African and Middle Eastern culture.

Thanks to that inspiration, this year’s pieces were popping with color - the vibrant paintings, photographs and sculptures lit up the gym Monday.

Some of the art represented weeks of work; others were completed in a single class. Because the school enrolls students of so many ability levels (many students admitted have disabilities in addition to deafness), Silvestri said her art class allows them to work at their own pace.

“We try to provide them with structure,” she said. “But there are some students who may struggle with the curriculum and want to do things a different way.”

Creating art can be an empowering process for the students, she added.

“The art show is something they look forward to - their art can be seen,” she said.

Sarti said Andrey is “coming into his own” as a result of his artistic growth, for example.

“The big thing for me is that he has confidence - he feels he can do things,” she said. “He enjoys it.”

Admiring one of Andrey’s paintings at Monday’s show, Sarti also pointed out another surprising development.

“It’s really quote good,” she said.

(Scott O’Connell can be reached at 508-626-4449 or

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I will be attending the NAEA Baltimore Convention next week and doing my presentation on Thursday. I really enjoyed the NAEA Minneapolis convention last year and was very excited to go to SNAE workshops and awards ceremony (Special Needs Art Education). And thrilled they will provide ASL interpreters again, even though it is for a limited time.


Theme-Based Curriculum for teaching Art to Deaf students with Multiple Disabilities


Silvestri will share her experiences in teaching art in a Deaf school that services K-12 students. Participants will join group discussions, sharing their experiences teaching special needs.


The Art Teacher at this Deaf school program is not limited to one grade level or department but teaches pre-school to 12th grade. In addition to working with Deaf students, the art teacher also engages students with special needs, and behavioral/emotional challenged students. The program not only services ASL-Fluent Deaf students, but also students with Cochlear Implants, Autism, ADHD, and Multiple Disabilities. To juggle teaching the variety of needs at three campuses, and provide meaningful learning in the art classroom, the art program uses a theme-based curriculum for the entire year, which provides spiral learning, and access for all levels. In addition to the theme, students have the opportunity to have their work displayed in several exhibits out in the community, as well as the annual campus art show. Participants will also discuss the trend of multiple disabilities in all art classrooms, and the need for expanding SNAE.


I apologize for the longggg delay in posting for my art blog. I got engaged in September 2009 and have been focusing my creative energies in wedding planning and writing in my bride blog. Check out the website to see the creative progress at

Wedding planning can be a headache for many, all of those details and decisions regarding flowers, food menu choices, transportation, centerpieces, gifts, invitations, etc, etc. But for me it is like a big art project, selecting colors, ambiance, deciding what goes with what and more. At first I did think I would do more DIY (do it yourself) wedding art, but just the sheer number of guests made it unreasonable, so now I am more of a creative director to my own wedding. However, a wedding is not alllll about me, so my creativity also includes the tastes of my fiance, our families, and the venues we will use. It is more of a collaborative project.

If I was not an art teacher, I would totally enjoy being a Wedding Designer. Wedding inspiration boards are just like an artist's sketchbook and thumbnail sketches. Throw together bits and pieces to help you steer in the right direction and get that larger picture you want to portray.

Here are some examples of inspiration boards I found online (in my wedding colors!)

Current Theme Curriculum & and a new art room!


2009/2010: India to Africa

This year we are studying and discussing visual arts, dance, theater and culture from traditional and contemporary movements. Our focus is on the art/culture of the Middle East and Africa, and also includes Tibet and India. During our recent summer 2009 session, art students had a brief introduction to color theory and Tibetian Mandalas. Just before I closed the classroom for renovations, students were working on Safari Sunsets & African Animals.

This is a watercolor of a peacock in the style of

India's Miniature Painting by a high school student of mine.



Right now, the school is planning to renovate the BARN Building (where my art classroom was), and create a new school building which will house a new library and the early childhood program. I am currently in the process of moving to a modular/temporary classroom which I will share with the LIBRARY. The room is a little bit smaller but I believe I am being smarter about the use of space, less furniture, less clutter, more space, and best of all, the room has more windows and natural light! NO more basement. I will post more soon when the art room is complete.