Faith & Fashion Duke It Out

Allan Appel PhotoNext time you drop by the Shubert, you might see Faith and Fashion duking it out.

This time it’s not on the stage but the lobby walls.

Thursday a revelatory show of city students’ art work went up in the the theater’s mezzanine, where kids’ dreams, self-images, and preoccupations are often on tender display.

It was “Art in Action,” the newest edition of the Shubert Theater-funded community outreach program that connects local students with art professionals appearing in Shubert shows and often based on themes in those shows.

This season Co-op Arts & Humanities High seniors and juniors were were paired with middle-schoolers from Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School in producing plaster casts of their own faces. That was the first step in creating a sculpture to reflect the kids’ artistic and other dreams, in keeping with the theme of Once, a Broadway musical now playing at the Shubert. That show, about artists who fulfill dreams despite adversity, was the trigger.

Last year Les Miserables inspired a group sculpture. This year the students went to town, with eight high school kids and 11 middle-schoolers turning out self portraits through images that ranged from scorpions to crucifixes to mother boards.

Click here for a story on how those plaster casts were made last month.

After working for a month, the project culminated Wednesday when the kids went to see Once. On Thursday morning the show was hung and in front of their creations they got to interact with Matt DeAngelis and Erica Swindell, two of the young theater professionals in the show.

“I want a career in art and fashion and to travel, and hopefully to make a lot of money,” said senior Adrianna Robles (pictured).

“Take the ‘hopefully’ out of it,” counseled DeAngelis, who has already made it to the Shubert, and beyond as one of those “triple threats,” a performer who acts, dances, and is a singer/musician as well. That’s one of the requirements for performing in Once.

Some kids talked candidly, some shyly, about their work, with lots of discussion about how and where they deployed their own plaster faces in their collages.

Sean Hughes (pictured at the top of this story) said he was into marine architecture, so he’s got a battleship of some kind in the lower left of his work. It’s launching a projectile, which is more than destructive. “I put my face on the shell,” he said because he too is launching himself.

“That’s rad, man,” replied DeAngelis.

Next up was Kira Podgwaite (pictured). She constructed a crucifix festooned with Stars of David. Along the cross piece, she wrote in Greek—the language of the New Testament—words that translate to “the least of these.”

She said she was inspired in part because she’s taking a philosophy course this semester at Yale and they’re studying the medieval Jewish thinker Moses Maimonides. Her teacher explained a teaching, she said, that “If you identify with God, when you die, your soul will associate [not with material things] but God.”

She said she painted her plaster cast black and placed it at the base of the cross, because “Man is low, God is exalted.”

“My head just exploded,” said DeAngelis.

The project is funded annually by a grant the Shubert applies for through the League of American Theaters and Producers. The art works will remain up through the end of Once’s run, March 2, and for some time beyond, although that has not been determined, said Shubert spokesman Anthony Lupinacci.

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