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Senior’s portraits adorn local Club’s hallway

Becky Hogan | Tuesday, February 20, 2007

For senior Kelly Hardy, her paintings are far more than something beautiful to look at – they’re a way to give back to South Bend.

After spending last summer working at the Boys and Girls Club of St. Joseph County, Hardy created seven portraits of the children she had worked with as an assignment for her Multilevel Painting class.

Hardy worked on the project for the entire Fall 2006 semester – a feat that, until recently, she thought she would never accomplish.

“I had never really painted people before. It was something that I had always avoided even though I had been painting a long time,” Hardy admitted. “[But] I decided … to dive right in with huge, oversized [portraits].”

For Hardy, who first attended a painting class in second grade, art influences the way she interacts with kids today.

“I think the best part about this was getting to know the kids individually by working with them, and then getting to know them at a different level by painting them. … It brought a whole new level of meaning,” Hardy said.

Although Hardy did not originally plan to donate the paintings, she felt that the Club would benefit most from them.

“There were seven pretty oversized portraits of the kids I worked with at the Boys and Girls Club, and I decided that the best thing that I could do with them was share them with the kids who inspired them,” Hardy said.

The portraits now adorn the main hallway of the Club on Sample Street.

“Kelly has been a long-time volunteer and staff member, and it means a lot when a staff member invests so much time into [the Club],” said Kregg VanMeter, director of development at the Club. “The paintings bring a typical hallway to life and show the mission we have with the kids.”

Hardy worked at the Club during her freshman year and then returned early last summer. This year, she works in its art room.

Hardy used photographic references to create the seven portraits, each of which features a child participating in the various activities the Club offers.

“They are not exactly realist … they are more impressionist portraits – with pretty active brush strokes,” Hardy said. “[The kids at the Boys and Girls Club] act very adult-like, and I wanted to catch them at their childlike moments.”

Although Hardy has never donated her work before, some of her paintings will appear in the 2007 edition of the Dome yearbook.

Hardy is currently applying for a teaching service projects including Teach for America and Alliance for Catholic Education, and eventually plans to pursue a career working with children in art therapy.