FALL RIVER — Claude Monet’s water lily paintings were the inspiration for a group of paintings created by individuals from People Incorporated and artist Vania Noverca Viveiros.
Brush stroke by brush stroke, the 27 art students taking weekly classes at Noverca Viveiros’ studio created the four paintings that make up “A Collaborative Journey,” on display at the Narrows Center for the Arts through Aug. 30.
Meeting over the past several months at Noverca Viveiros’ studio in the Narrows, the students layered paint on canvas as they built confidence and found a sense of tranquility week by week, she said.
“Jen (Higgins) loves to do circles and as she found a sense of peace she decided to do two lily pads,” said Noverca Viveiros, as she pointed to the graceful lines of the watery scene on the canvas. “She generally sticks to circles and when she got to the water, she became even more relaxed.”
The art students who worked on the project came from People, Incorporated’s 1040 Eastern Avenue, Riggenbach Road and Cove Street sites with each group meeting separately with Noverca Viveiros.
And their creative journey was well received last Tuesday at an opening for the exhibit at the Narrows where families had a chance to see their son’s or daughter’s work on display as the community looked with admiration at the four paintings and a video showing the process.
Working with 8 or 9 students at a time, Noverca Viveiros said the art students from People, Incorporated learned about colors, brush strokes and putting paintbrush to canvas. “When they learned this I knew it was working,” she said, pointing to the clearly defined water lilies on the canvas.
The program has been so successful, she said, that it will be expanding with another art teacher, Tony Henriques, another artist who works out of a studio at the Narrows.
“It really made them more confident in their abilities,” said Claudia Alves, a developmental specialist from People, Incorporated who accompanied the group from the Eastern Avenue program to the weekly classes. “Imagine being told to stand in front of a blank canvas? Instead of it being a free-for-all, it almost gave them a sense of liberation — now they can take a brush to canvas. It’s relaxing; the music’s on, it’s quiet and it gives them time away from the program.”
And parents of the aspiring artists “are just amazed,” added Alves.
Art student Beth Ainsworth’s parents, Ray and Lillian Ainsworth couldn’t say enough positive things about the art classes, as well as on-site music classes their daughter took part it earlier this year at the Narrows. “I think she gets a lot of satisfaction out of it,” said Lillian Ainsworth.
And for Beth, it was a toss up whether she preferred the art classes or the music classes, but in the end, the Monet-inspired paintings won out. “I like the water lilies,” she said.
“It’s great, she really enjoys doing it and she feels good about herself,” added her mother. And there may be good reason Beth found it tough to decide between the art classes or the music classes. Her father retired from the Portsmouth High School as head of the music department, and her late grandfather, Ray Ainsworth Sr. was a well-known painter in the Fall River art scene.
The roots of the art classes that take individuals out into the community — in this case into Noverca Viveiros’ studio — started four years ago when she was teaching a group of children at the Cove Street location. “I really give Bill Perkins (People, Incorporated chief operating officer) the credit. He visited Cove Street and he loved the idea of incorporating art classes,” she said.
With the success of the art program, a music instruction program also began last year with individuals from People, Incorporated meeting weekly at the Narrows with local blues artist Mark T. Small.
And on this night, as all gathered to see the fruits of the People, Incorporated collaboration, Perkins said, “I’m amazed at the quality of the art. Vania really brings out their creativity. It’s just amazing.”