By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News
Though visitors to the new Washtenaw County Dental Clinic may be a bit antsy in the waiting room prior to a procedure, the colorful artwork of AAPS students and teachers provides a soothing distraction.
About 60 pieces from about 20 Ann Arbor Public Schools are on display at the clinic, located in the Haab Health Building at 111 N. Huron Street in Ypsilanti. The clinic serves those who are low income, and was opened by Washtenaw County Public Health in collaboration with St. Joseph Mercy Health System, the Washtenaw Health Plan and My Community Dental Centers.
Scarlett Middle School art teacher Chris Cerniglia agreed to supply a running art exhibition on the clinic walls with his students’ work.
“The space is fantastic,” said Cerniglia. “I was able to keep a show running all of last year with the work of Scarlett students alone.”
He said he kept asking other area teachers to submit entries, and last spring was able to get three other Ann Arbor schools to give him student artwork for a summer/fall show.
This fall, he was able to secure the commitment of the AAPS art teachers to give him two pieces, which means there is now a large gallery there.
“It’s such a wonderful exhibit, and the feedback from the staff, and patrons about the show is remarkable,” said Cerniglia, noting that the exhibit is a gift from students and teachers to the county.
Scarlett Middle School eighth grader Sky Faerber, an aspiring artist, is happy to know that visitors to the clinic others are enjoying the pencil drawing she’s titled “Two Faces.”
“Ninety percent of the pleasure in art is in making it, and I feel the other 10 percent is the feeling of accomplishment when people like it,” said Sky. “Of course it’s your own enjoyment of your art that matters the most, but it’s also just a nice feeling when others like it as well.”
Cerniglia’s wife, Washtenaw County Public Health Communications Manager Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, said that patients as well as staff enjoy the student art work on display at the clinic.
“Patients have said they were amazed to see it was student art work,” she said.
Working with the schools to showcase student art work brings the idea of community partnership to life on the clinic walls, she noted.
“It creates a sense of belonging to patients who can see their neighborhood schools represented, or recognize students and teachers they know,” she said. “Students themselves also come in to see their work on display. Since each art piece is unique, the overall sense is welcoming, diverse, colorful – and, as the office administrator says provides a “happy” feeling in the space.”
Clinic staff are eager to showcase the work of the talented art students and teachers from across AAPS, said Ringler-Cerniglia.
“We’re looking at rotating the show about three times per year, and we can incorporate new and/or more pieces each time we do that,” she said. “We’re working with Chris and other area teachers to change it out as it fits with their schedules and other shows they do.”
The current show will remain up through late February or early March.
To display artwork at the clinic, contact Ringler-Cerniglia at 734-544-6759 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Chris Cerniglia at 734-330-7280 or email@example.com.