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Bayside students honor sculptor Louise Nevelson with artwork

Fifth-graders from Bayside’s PS 31 learned the value of artistic collaboration during the past year after taking part in a project dedicated to the late sculptor Louise Nevelson during which they collected old pieces of wood and created their own work of art.

More than 100 students, who were in fourth-grade throughout the project and are now fifth-graders, gathered in the school’s lobby Monday to meet Maria Nevelson, granddaughter of the Russian-born abstract expressionist artist, who was known for her “assemblage” pieces of discarded objects.

The student’s project, made up of 105 pieces of painted wood crafted into box top panels, will be on display at the school at 211-45 46th Road in Bayside for the next two weeks.

“Many of these students have never viewed an artist’s work or been to a gallery in Chelsea,” said Judy Bergon, an art teacher at the school. “It has taught them a new way of looking at art and exposed them to various forms of sculpture.”

The Home Depot provided paint for the project.

Aside from putting together the piece, the students also visited Manhattan’s Pace Gallery to view Louise Nevelson’s work.

Maria Nevelson, who lives in Philadelphia, said the students created a “wonderful” tribute to her grandmother.

“You can see how each unit was well thought-out,” she said. “They studied my grandmother’s work and saw how light and shadow is captured. The quality of their work is very mature.”

The students collected wood for the project from dumpsters in Bayside, SoHo in Manhattan and Red Hook in Brooklyn as well as at an Astoria construction site.

Student Nina Cinco, 12, of Bayside, said she liked how the art piece incorporated the use of shadows and light, while other pupils responded to other elements of the project.

“I liked that everyone used their imagination,” said Andrew Acevedo, 10, of Bayside.

Brian Ross, 10, of Bayside, said he enjoyed the collaborative element of the piece.

“I was mostly interested in when we started putting the wood together to make different shapes,” said Ross, whose previous art endeavors include creating his own comic book character, Pencil Man.

Each of the 105 students will be able to take home their individual piece of the assemblage project after it is taken down later this month, Bergon said.

Louise Nevelson, who was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and grew up in Maine, died in New York City in 1988 at age 87.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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