When we raised the idea to host an Artist In Residence as one of the ways to celebrate the school’s tenth anniversary, I immediately thought of my brother, Antony Zito. Why wouldn’t I? From as far back as I could remember he has been making beautiful art. As children we were surrounded by art, our dad a sculptor and avid painter who spent many hours at his easel and our mom painting when she could find the time between raising three children and being a Montessori teacher.
After graduating art school, Antony moved to the lower east side of New York City. He has spent decades there running a gallery, portrait studio, and founding and directing “4heads Non Profit,” the New York City organization created by artists for artists that hosts one of the city’s biggest art fairs on Governors Island, NY. His work has been exhibited and collected throughout the US, UK, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, and Japan.
So, would he have time to come to New Hampshire to work with the children of Hollis Montessori School? Enthusiastically, he answered, “yes”. A Montessori child himself, raised in a Montessori home, he felt an immediate connection to this potential project. How wonderful it would be for the children to work side by side with Antony, and that is just what they did.
Antony prepared a series of pre-cut panels of all different shapes and sizes, and the children painted them focusing on the theme of the changing seasons and the colors those seasons bring to mind. As the project progressed, one could see that the younger children’s work was more abstract and the older childrens more representational. With his guidance and advice along the way, “add more detail here, use a richer, deeper color here,” the panels were all painted, and Antony began to arrange them on the wall to form a mural that connected together almost like a giant jigsaw puzzle.
The idea was for the children to work alongside an accomplished artist and for the walls of the school to finally have some beautiful art hanging on them in celebration of the school’s tenth anniversary. We accomplished just that.
The next time you walk in the main entrance of the school, notice the wall in front of you bursting with color and life. Listen and you may even hear the children as they pause on their way by say, “there’s my piece that I worked on.” How lucky we are to have this beautiful collaborative piece hanging on our walls, and how lucky I am to have a piece of my brother greet me each morning when I arrive at Hollis Montessori School.