Heather Chu Marvill's eighth grade art students have added a new twist to promoting pet adoptions: showcasing adoptable animals through portraiture.
To kick this project off, Heather explained that the kids looked at photos of the dogs and cats up for adoption online, and selected their favorite animals to create portraits. The medium for the portrait project was scratchboard (you can scratch away black on the surface to reveal white below), and the students paid close attention to light and dark values in each animal's image to create their portraits. Ethan Jih-Cook said, "Scratch art is very precise. You can't make one wrong mark, or that mark becomes part of your final product. You also have to dive right into it. You must think about everything."
This week, the students got to draw from life, as Mandy Buhle, a volunteer for Philadoptables, brought her rescued dog Omar to be a model for the kids. Mandy stood with Omar and answered questions about him and adoption while the kids sketched, this time experimenting with charcoal and pencil, rather than scratchboard. "It's great to get people of different ages interested in adoption," Mandy said.
The student artists were thrilled to have this chance to draw Omar. Isaac Okewole commented, "It's great to draw the animal in person. We can better show their personality and capture it in the drawing."
Heather hopes that this project will help more adoptable animals find homes. She says, "Animals who experience homelessness or enter a rescue have their lives flipped upside down. They need someone to keep their spirits up."
Kids can play a bigger role than they might realize in helping to relieve animal homelessness. Morgan Polley, PR and Development Specialist at ACCT Philly explains, "It's important to educate young people about the shelter crisis because THEY are the change that can happen to the current homeless pet system in Philadelphia. If they learn how important it is to adopt a dog instead of buy one, and how important it is to spay/neuter a pet, they can directly impact the number of animals in shelters like ACCT Philly. If they learn about how to help their local shelter, they can then be the activists in their neighborhoods and communities, and make a huge difference in the lives of homeless animals!"
Channel 6 ABC attended our day of live portraiture and helped us raise awareness of the urgent needs of Philadelphia's homeless animals. Check out the news coverage here.
Heather will be collecting pet supplies, blankets, towels, and cat and dog food to donate to ACCT Philly. Please bring all donations to the art studio in the Sharpless Building by Tuesday, December 18.