Last summer, Montclair High School junior Marin Day ventured to Nicaragua through the VISIONS program for community service. Day worked at the Simon Bolivar school, teaching the Nicaraguan students English. On one of the final days of the trip, one of Day’s favorite students, a little boy named Carlos, took her journal and drew a picture inside of it.
“It was a simple picture, really, just a doodle of a car and a tree,” explains Day. “But for some reason, it just got to me. Instantly I wished that I had an extra journal and some art supplies to give to Carlos so he could maybe continue this passion.”
At Simon Bolivar, Carlos and his fellow students go without art instruction. With no crayons, markers, paintbrushes, paint or paper, it’s impossible to conduct a proper art class.
“That was when I knew I needed to do something,” says Day. “Art is such a crucial part of education. It teaches children how to express themselves, and self expression is extremely important.”
Upon returning from her trip, Day still found herself plagued by the memory of Carlos and his drawing. Once the school year began, she knew what she had to do.
“I decided that I would create a club that would help raise money to fund an art program at the Simon Bolivar School in Nicaragua,” explains Day. “I decided to name it ‘Art Without Borders’."
And the rest is history.
Starting a club at MHS is quite easy, but getting the club to actually accomplish something is no simple feat. While it’s plausible, it still requires quite a bit of effort and determination. Day, unwilling to let Carlos and his peers down, pushed through the grueling process. She found an advisor and some dedicated members and got to work.
“I knew I wanted Ms. Panayev to be the club advisor,” says Day. “She was my history teacher sophomore year and I knew she would completely support my cause and also let me do my own thing.”
“I’m a little bit of a control freak,” Day sheepishly admitted, “So having an advisor who would let me do what I wanted without breathing down my neck was really crucial.”
Day’s club attracted a great number of members. For a fledgling club it boasts a considerable headcount—20 students. Each member has dedicated themselves in different ways.
“Everyone has worked so hard,” Day gushes. “They all do different things, which is great. I have people who make brownies for bake sales, people who actually contributed pieces of art they’d done for our upcoming gallery show, and others who have greatly assisted me in coordinating and organizing meetings and events.”
The members of the club are as exuberant as Day.
“I love being in the club because it gives me the opportunity to make a change in the world through something that’s really important,” says junior Nora Elman.
Junior Moriah Engleberg, agrees, saying that: “It’s a great club. I enjoy participating because I really believe that giving kids the chance to express themselves through art is really important.”
Besides its dedicated members, Art Without Boarders also boasts a knack for organizing great fundraising events.
When I say fundraiser, I don’t mean some sham of a bake sale with store bought goods in the dank front hallway of the MHS main building. I mean a full-blown art show in an actual gallery, with actual artwork, and actual prospective buyers.
Now would be the perfect time to do the infamous Macaulay Culkin hands on face gesture.
Organizing such a professional event is not an easy thing to do. It’s very hard to find a venue, support, and people willing to donate supplies (in this case their own paintings). Putting together something like this requires extreme amounts of effort.
“I’ve had lots of support,” Day admits. “The director of Gallery U, where the show will be held, Robert Grecco, has been more than supportive. It’s a lot of work, but the people who have helped me have made this process more fun than a hassle.”
This Saturday night, Day’s club, after months of preparation, will be hosting a show, which exhibits art by MHS students and local artists. The art will be on sale and all proceeds will go to funding the purchase of art supplies for the Simon Bolivar School.
Cheaper prints will also be sold for those who don’t feel like forking out the cash to buy a real piece. In addition, donations will be accepted in the form of cash and art supplies. But of course, donations or purchasing artwork aren’t a requirement to get in the door.
“While, yes, this event is about raising money for my cause, it’s really also about spreading appreciation for the arts!” explains Day, “I really want to just celebrate how special and vital the arts are to our lives and the community.”
The show will also feature live music (performed by MHS’ talented a capella group,Passing Notes) and food. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday evening.
A compelling reason to support Art Without Borders is that, unlike many clubs at MHS, it isn’t a passing fad. Day plans to take this club as far as it can go.
“I want to expand,” she says, “I really want to make it a year-round thing so people can become really involved. I want this club to make an impact. I plan on not only improving it for next year, but taking it with me when I go to college, expanding it as I grow.”
“I just want to bring awareness to how amazing art really is,” Day continues. “In the future, I don’t want to just focus on Simon Bolivar, but broaden my focus to schools across the world and in the United States and Montclair as well.”
Day’s passionate dedication to the club is what makes it so special.
“I didn’t just create it to look good to colleges, and the members aren’t in it just to look good to schools either,” Day adds. “We’re all a part because we want to make a difference.”
Proceeds from the event, as stated prior, will be used to purchase art supplies for Simon Bolivar, which will be delivered by the VISIONS program (the group Day originally travelled with) to the school. VISIONS will additionally utilize the supplies in art lessons for the students.
And so little Carlos, Day’s charitable muse, will be able to foster his passion for art after all.
If you want to purchase some great art or simply show your support for an excellent cause, swing by Gallery U on 179 Glenridge Avenue in Montclair, New Jersey on Saturday, May 19, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and support Marin Day, Art Without Borders, and their quest to spread the power of art internationally.