“Glowing with light and warmth, vibrant, bold and abstract” are just some of the reactions from the 7th grade art classes in Amityville, Long Island, as they viewed the paintings of Richard Mayhew. They were surprised to learn that this 98-year-old artist is also from Amityville, just like they are. Students were excited to hear about the artist’s early life, and how he was inspired by his time on Long Island and by his own African American and Native American heritage.
Throughout the school year, Heckscher Museum educators have presented exciting interactive programs for Amityville’s Edmund W. Miles Middle School. These educational experiences are designed to build literacy skills through grade appropriate discussion and conversation around Richard Mayhew: Reinventing Landscape, currently on view in the Museum. “Viewing Mayhew’s work allowed students to stretch their imaginations and discover the power of art,” said Joy Weiner, Director of Education. “Students were very curious about the title of the exhibition, Reinventing Landscape. What does it mean to reinvent? We set out to unpack this idea.” Students compared a Mayhew landscape with a traditional landscape. The classes discovered what was similar and what was different. They learned that Mayhew refers to his paintings as “mindscapes” and that he paints very much from his imagination.
Following the presentation and educator demonstrations, classes set out to create a mixed-media work of art inspired by Mayhew’s paintings. Each young artist began by painting an abstract sky and background. For the second session students worked in oil pastels, learning to blend with a limited palette. Finally, the two parts were combined, and each child showed off a work that they were proud of. Noted Weiner: “They were all pretty sure that Richard Mayhew would be impressed with their accomplishments.”