Kids & Kritters Art Show to Feature Work by Zoo's 'Pigcassos' and Children from The Cardinal Shehan Center

Date: 
Tue, 04/05/2011

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - April 5, 2011 - The Fairfield Arts Center,The Cardinal Shehan Center, and Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo will present Kids & Kritters: Wild Inspirations, an art exhibit featuring 28 original works by the talented children of The Cardinal Shehan Center and local "Pigcassos" from Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo. This is the first program in the country to pair animal artists with children artists in a collaborative artmaking initiative. An opening reception with the human and animal artists will be held on Friday, April 15, 2011 from 5:30 P.M. - 7:00 P.M. at The Cardinal Shehan Center, 1494 Main Street, Bridgeport, CT. This event is free and open to the public.

"The Shehan Center is grateful to the Fairfield Arts Center for creating a unique opportunity for our children in partnership with Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo. It is outreach programs of this nature that allow us to continue our all important mission of enriching lives through learning," shared Terry O'Connor, the Center's executive director.

Children ages 8 - 13 from The Cardinal Shehan Center collaborated in a pioneering workshop with Animal Artists in residence at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo to produce original works of art together. Each child was given a canvas to let their creative talents free and their painted creations became the backgrounds of a new piece of art. Each child selected the animal he/she would partner with through a random lottery and the animals finished the pieces by painting the foregrounds of the artwork in the weeks following the workshop.

Animal enrichment programs such as this provide mental and physical stimulation for the animals but also create positive interactions between the staff and the animals. The local "Pigcassos" include the Zoo's Andean Bear, Barn (domestic) Cat, North American River Otter, Brazilian Ocelot, Barn (domestic) Rabbit, Golden Lion Tamarin (monkey), Blue and Gold Macaw (parrots), Fancy (domestic) Rat, Guinea Hog, Savannah Monitor, and the Maned Wolf.

Other active animal artists include the Amur tigers, bearded dragons, ferrets, and fantail doves. The list of animals is constantly expanding as the Zoo offers additional enrichment options. Like other "artists," the animals have different styles and are not on any schedule to produce artwork. Each painting is an original, numbered canvas print with a photo of the animal painter on the reverse side along with information about the animal and the date painted.

"While animal enrichment programs are common at zoos, this is the first program to tap into the talents of our youngest visitors and bring them together for this inspired collaboration," explained Gregg Dancho, director, Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo. "We are thrilled with the success of the program and dazzled at how beautiful the works are."

Aquarion Water Company of Connecticut generously provided a partnering grant to The Fairfield Arts Center, which invited Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo and The Cardinal Shehan Center to design this unique artistic expression workshop. Following the exhibit at The Cardinal Shehan Center, all 28 pieces will move to Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo for the summer, then to Aquarion Water Company's downtown headquarters and the Fairfield Arts Center. Organizations interested in hosting this traveling exhibit in 2012 may contact Courtney Ryan at 203-336-4468.

Because of its popularity and great results, Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo hopes to replicate this workshop with more children from the region. To sponsor a Kids & Kritters program, please contact Denise Lukienchuk at 203-294-6563.

The Kids & Kritters: Wild Inspirations Opening Reception on April 15 is free and open to the public. To attend the reception at The Cardinal Shehan Center, please RSVP by calling 203-336-4468. The collection will be on exhibit at The Cardinal Shehan Center Mondays - Fridays from 9:00 A.M. - 7:00 P.M. and Saturdays from 10:00 A.M. - 2:00 P.M. through July 3.

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About Aquarion Water Company of Connecticut
Aquarion Water Company of Connecticut, an Aquarion subsidiary, is the public water supply company for approximately 180,000 customer accounts or more than 580,000 people in 39 cities and towns throughout Connecticut's Fairfield, New Haven, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex and New London Counties. We are the largest investor-owned water utility in New England and are among the seven largest in the U.S. Based in Bridgeport, CT, we've been in the public water supply business since 1857, and each of our approximately 305 employees throughout New England is proud to have the opportunity to deliver the highest quality product and services to our customers. For more information, visit http://www.aquarionwater.com

About The Cardinal Shehan Center
The Cardinal Shehan Center is a non-profit organization located in Bridgeport, CT. For 49 years the Center has served the recreational, educational, and social needs of moderate and low-income families and young people of lower Fairfield County, particularly inner city Bridgeport. Our mission is enriching lives through learning. This is accomplished by offering an After School & Saturday Youth Development Program, Summer Day Camp, various basketball and softball leagues, Sign-Up Programs, Physical Education classes to grammar schools, and alternative education programs. The Center commits itself to offering a clean, safe environment where positive, growth-enhancing opportunities are offered regardless of race or religious affiliation. For more information, visit http://www.shehancenter.org

About Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo
Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is closer than you think and features 300 animals representing primarily North and South American species. Visitors won't want to miss our new Bald Eagle exhibit, Andean condors, Amur (Siberian) tigers, ocelot, red & maned wolves, Andean (spectacled) bear, llamas, vampire bats, and golden lion tamarins. Other highlights include our South American rainforest with free-flight aviary, the prairie dog exhibit with "pop-up" viewing areas, the New England Farmyard with goats, cows, pigs, sheep, and other barnyard critters, plus the hoofstock trail featuring bison, pronghorn, deer, and more. Visitors can grab a bite at the Peacock Café, eat in the Picnic Grove and enjoy a ride on our colorful carousel. For more information, visit http://www.beardsleyzoo.org

About The Fairfield Arts Center
The Fairfield Arts Center (FAC) is a not-for-profit, local municipal arts agency dedicated to enriching the cultural experience of the members of its community. In support of Fairfield's arts and artists of all disciplines, FAC seeks to integrate the creative process into the daily lives of the Town's 60K residents by providing access through opportunity, education and outreach. FAC is funded in part by the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fairfield County Community Foundation. FAC is located at 70 Sanford Street, Fairfield, CT, for more information call 203-319-1419 or visit http://www.fairfieldartscenter.org