Ridge Art Club Opens Doors to Cincinnati Zoo

Ridge Art Club Opens Doors to Cincinnati Zoo
Posted on 04/02/2019
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Abby Wilson's winning design for a rain barrel contest shows the contrast between arctic and desert terrain using light and dark colors. The photo also shows the before picture of the rain barrel and the after. Without time in her schedule to take an art class this year, Ridge Junior School’s Art Club has given eighth-grader Abby Wilson an alternative outlet for pursuing her passion. It’s also helped her land a spot at the Cincinnati Zoo to showcase her work.


Wilson was among just 40 Cincinnati-area youth artists - including very few junior high school honorees - selected to hand-paint a rain barrel with her original winning design. The accent pieces will be part of a silent art auction at the the zoo’s Party for the Planet Celebration, helping bring awareness to its storm water conservation efforts and motivate local homeowners to do their part, too. After all, rain barrels are an easy and inexpensive way to conserve water and save money.


Ridge art teacher Amy Panfalone makes it a goal to integrate at least one community service project into Art Club every year.


“I’ve always thought it’s a great way to get them involved in their community using their talents and with the opportunity to be recognized outside of Ridge Junior,” Panfalone said.


Given a blank canvas and very few requirements, Wilson chose to depict the extremes of the zoo’s terrain, using the contrast of cold colors to represent arctic habitats and warm colors to represent desert wildlife. Once selected, she was faced with the daunting task of converting her paper drawing into an oil-based painting on a much larger and contoured surfaced.


Luckily, she was invited to a workshop at the zoo, where she was given some professional tips for sanding, priming, painting and finishing the barrel in a way that would help prevent water and sun damage.


For about a month, Wilson spent her study hall in the art room working on her barrel and then dedicated a couple hours every day over spring break to meet her deadline.


“It’s definitely going to be sad to give it away, but it’s for a good cause,” she said.


Wilson’s barrel will be on display in the zoo’s Education Center and Go Green Garden April 1 through April 25, when they will be sold in a silent auction at the zoo’s Earth Day celebration. Proceeds from the auction will be used to further environmental education and awareness.