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These local students worked with special needs adults. What they created was beautiful.

The teenage art exhibit last weekend in downtown Hamilton was about so much more than art.

The Badin High School juniors and seniors created their works – paintings, sculptures, wall hangings, glass work and fabric pieces – working with developmentally challenged city residents.

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The theme for this annual event, sponsored by the InsideOut Studio on Hamilton’s High Street, was “heart” – and there was plenty of emotion going on as the students and their collaborators sold their work.

Funds raised by the exhibit were donated to the Cardiac Care Unit of Fort Hamilton Hospital.

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Sarah Daniels, art teacher for Badin, said the empathy and life lessons learned by the teens working alongside artists with special needs was invaluable.

“It’s more than art. It’s reaching out to the community and having relationships with other (adult) artists,” Daniels said.

“We pair them up based on their personalities. It has a very lasting impact. One of my students is going to pursue art therapy,” she said of the 10 advanced art students who participated in this year’s program.

Isabelle Munafo, a junior at Badin, proudly displayed a large, glazed mug whose handles show a silhouetted heart when it is rotated.

“This project has been amazing. It was so much fun,” said Munafo. “It’s been great experience and I’ve learned so much.”

That’s one of the program’s goals, said Dirk Allen, spokesman for Badin, which is the only Catholic high school in Butler County.

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“Our affiliation with InsideOut Studios has been vibrant and ongoing,” said Allen.

“Our students really enjoy the artistic interaction with the people at InsideOut. Yes, it’s a service effort, but to our students it’s much bigger than that,” he said. “They love the art, they love the collaboration, and they love the personal rewards they get from being involved with the studio.”

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