SEWICKLEY — Aspiring art students in middle and high school now have their choice of attending six different classes concentrated on reusing materials, thanks to the generosity and support of the TSR (Tess Senay Raynovich) Fund, the namesake of a Sewickley native and art enthusiast who died suddenly in 2012.
For almost a decade, Tess’s mom, Nancy Kirkwood, along with a dedicated board, created many fundraising and scholarship opportunities related to eco-art, a form of environmental art created by artists concerned about the environment, to continue Tess’s path.
“Tess is love,” Kirkwood said. “Her vibrancy, her zest for life, and her belief that anyone in their own way can impact the world for the good will live on.”
Sweetwater Center for the Arts has partnered with the Irma Freeman Center for Imagination, a Bloomfield area imagination and green space known for its diverse, cultural and socio-economic opportunities, to offer classes like hand paper making and Found Plastic Etching and Printmaking. Partnering with this learning hub, as well as the TSR Fund, is critical for the growth of Sweetwater.
“The teams at both the Irma Freeman Center and the TSR Fund contribute tremendously to our community’s educational and cultural landscape, and we are delighted and excited to offer opportunities to support their missions and strengthen our own,” said Sweetwater executive director Christine Brondyke.
Starting in January, one class per month will take place in the Community Room, accommodating 16 students per class. Students can register for a full semester and include all the classes or select specific individual ones. The classes are $25 and include pizza and a beverage, Tess’s favorite food. Full scholarships are available for students of all ages demonstrating financial need.
Renowned artist an instructor Katy DeMent, known to many as the “Paper Lady,” with a studio in Swissvale, heard of the collaboration between entities and had a hunch the TSR Fund was the fuel behind it — she knew Nancy Kirkwood from the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse.
“To me, eco-art has always been a practice. It should be a given to reuse things and create beautiful things,” DeMent said. “This project will be a way for students who love art, no matter the art, to express their ability in a sustainable way. And I love that these kids will see a place like Sweetwater that they may not have had the chance to see before.”
Visit sweetwatercenter.org for more information and a complete class schedule.