Pro Arts and the Barat Foundation are excited to bring Animodules to Jersey City and Weehawken schools via a Hudson County Arts in Education grant. This grant is made possible by the Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs/Tourism Development. Chandri and Gary Barat founded the Barat Foundation in 1997 as a 501(C)3 not-for-profit educational corporation. The foundation provides opportunities for artistic and intellectual achievement and personal growth for underserved children. Pro Arts was lucky to have Chandri join our board this year as her experience with community-based art projects was a welcome addition. When Pro Arts received the application for the grant, a collaboration with the Barat Foundation was obvious. The Barats saw this as an opportunity to reach beyond their home base in Newark and Pro Arts saw this as a chance to bring collaborative art experiences to children in our community. 

The Pro Arts and Barat Foundation were awarded $15,000 to complete three Animodules in three Hudson County schools. The Animodules are eight-foot-tall plywood animals, usually the mascots of the schools, with images designed and painted by children. Three Pro Arts members, Dorie Dahlberg, Ibou Ndoye, and Charles Trott, were assigned to two Jersey City Schools and one school in Weehawken as visiting artists-facilitators. The middle school grades were the target grade levels for the three schools. 

The students began their designs by making lists of words associated with Peace, Family, Creation, and Nation. After making sketches to illustrate the words on their lists and deciding which images would be painted on the sculptures, the students primed and painted their Animodules. Once completed, the Animodules remain at the schools, usually placed at an entrance or auditorium where they can be seen by the entire school community. Over 200 children have been able to participate in their schools’ projects.

Dorie worked with art teacher, Willie Thomas, and his 7th grade students at Whitney M. Young Jr Community School (aka PS15). The Animodule at PS15 is a Parrot. Ibou was assigned to PS34 working on their Bear with art teacher, Marilyn Carpena, and her 7th grade classes. At Theodore Roosevelt School in Weehawken, Charles worked with Yvonne Decordova and her 4-6th grade students to create their Eagle Animodule. 

Pro Arts and the Barat Foundation thanks Rosa Mundell, Executive Assistant Program Coordinator/Arts Education at the Hudson County Office of Cultural Affairs and Melissa Cuccinello, Supervisor of Art Education in Jersey City Public Schools.

To learn more about the Barat Foundation and see the many Animodules they’ve made with children in Newark, please visit their website!