Co-sponsored by the Jefferson Arts Committee and the art teachers of the Jefferson Township School District, the Student Artists of the Month program recognizes students for their exceptional artwork. These students are awarded a Certificate of Achievement, a Fine Arts Medallion, and have their artwork displayed at the public library in Jefferson. This reception gathered these monthly winners for a final time where they were once again recognized for their achievement and had their work displayed.

The reception was full of appreciation for the arts and the hard work and dedication each of the recipients had for their work. After all the students were called up and a group photo was taken, a local artist, Doreen Mulryan, presented her artistic career path.

Mulryan currently holds three jobs involving art: a designer, an illustrator for children’s books, and an art studio owner and teacher. As a designer, she works for Paper Magic in Budd Lake to create images for gift bags. As an illustrator, she has not only illustrated children’s books written by other authors but by herself as well. She enjoys this job because she loves to collaborate with others, even with people all over the world. Her art studio, the P-nut Gallery, is right in Jefferson and has a special place in her heart because she gets to go back to doing art on paper and pencil and teach others an appreciation for art.

Mulryan gave these students advice about pursuing art. She told them to let go of their fears when creating art and not to be discouraged by a hard idea. She warned them against being intimidated by others' artwork and comparing themselves to others because everyone has different skill sets and they should find their own voice. Lastly, she told these young artists that everyone has a different time for success and they should keep on working hard if they want to achieve in art.

After Mulryan’s presentation, some of the teachers presented their own artwork and complimented their students along the way. David Devries, the art teacher at JTMS, said that “these kids here tonight have the drive and will continue to move forward with their art in the future.”

This year’s art teachers included Jennifer Tamayne-Hettema (White Rock, Cozy Lake, and Milton Schools), Denise Morando (Stanlick and Briggs Elementary Schools), Dave DeVries (JTMS), Karen Frelinghuysen (JTHS), Renee Simler (JTHS) and Karen Correia (JTHS).

This years JAC Student Artists of the Month volunteer committee members included Jason Nicholas, Donna Staccioli, Donna Staccioli, Elisa Deyoung and Carol Punturieri (President of the JAC) .

"For me art is about connection. Not only connecting with our inner selves, but the world around us. The SAM program is a great to use art as a positive community builder. Each month I am inspired by the amazing artistic talent of our students and the inspiration and dedication of our art teachers,” said Jason J. Nicholas.

The Jefferson Chronicle's Contributing Editor Jason J. Nicholas contributed to this story.

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