SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ — On May 20, Newmark School in Scotch Plains hosted their annual art show. Artwork created by students lined the hallway and classroom walls. Families and friends of students admired the talent of the young artists. The annual art show is especially significant because Newmark School is a private school for students with special needs.
“My son, Nicki, has been at this school since fourth grade,” said Jim Matrunich, of Mountainside. This is the best school for students with special needs. The faculty is extremely dedicated and would do anything for the students. Their teachers call home once a week to discuss each child’s progress. He really excels in this environment. It’s a safe space where their needs are met. It’s a godsend for me as a parent.”
Matrunich’s son just received his driver’s license. His two pieces of artwork included “Jeff the Fish” and “Tree on a Valley Hill.” His family was extremely proud of his work, and his aunt from Connecticut even came to admire his work.
“I come to the art show every year,” said Karen Matrunich, a former resident of Westfield. “My nephew attends a great school. The show gets better every year. The humor in some of these pieces is fantastic. My favorite piece is ‘Trump Hillary.’”
“Trump Hillary,” by Dustin Markey, is piece of Kinetic Art that appears differently when viewed at various angles. It depends on movement to be appreciated. When viewed from one side, it was a picture of Donald Trump. When viewed from the other side, one could see Hillary Clinton. Another example was “Good vs. Evil” which depicted Mario from one side and King Koopa from another.
“Students can be who they are and feel free to take risks at our school,” said Newmark School Founder Fran Clemente. “This is an annual event to showcase student art. It’s one of our premiere events. Parents donate desserts and drinks to make it a celebratory event. This school is a safe place where students can learn, grow and reach their potential. There are some very talented students that attend this school. One student is a professional jazz musician. He plays the trumpet, and he performed tonight. Another student is a Merit Scholarship winner who was awarded for high S.A.T. scores.
Everybody’s unique. This isn’t Noah’s Ark. Many alumni return each year for this event. Dr. Peters and I loved this population of kids. We built this school, and we have the latest technology such as a 3-D printer. Students are able to produce real-life objects with it. One student even created chess pieces.”
In addition to a musical performance, the school chorus sang a few songs. One song was “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5. The talent of the students was very versatile. Their improvement could be traced as they built upon concepts such as one- to two-point perspective. They also studied zentangles, pictures made of different shapes filled in with an intricate pattern. Works included “Flower Zentangle,” by Andrew Daura, and “This is my Zen…tangle,” by Brian Hove.
Students studied post-impressionism and recreated Van Gogh’s, “Starry Night.” They also studied and created pieces of optical and modern art. They studied symmetry, and although most faces aren’t symmetrical, students created a piece of work where they had to recreate one side of their faces.
Students were very proud to have their work on display. They were also very honored to sing for the audience as well as play musical instruments. They took great pride in demonstrating their talents for their families and friends. Despite some of the challenges they may face, they are also extremely talented. Newmark School is a place where they can nurture their talents and focus on their strengths. The school recognizes and meets the needs of each individual student.