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Art for Adolescence brings beauty to school walls

Stephanie Foreman founder Art for Adolescence Program is shown with two her pieces Friday May 3 2013 her home. |

Stephanie Foreman, founder of Art for Adolescence Program, is shown with two of her pieces on Friday, May 3, 2013, at her home. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 7, 2013 1:15AM

A brand-new school means plenty of wall space lacking ornamentation. Some student artwork graced the walls of Prairie Trails School in Wadsworth, but many interior walls were empty, Principal Kevin Simmons said.

That’s where Stephanie Foreman of Gurnee and her Art for Adolescence program came into the picture. Foreman and other program participants recently donated several original pieces of artwork to the school.

“We were very excited to receive this donation for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a nice way to recognize support from our community. The other reason is they are quite nice pieces of art work ... this was a nice donation to spruce up these walls,” Simmons said.

Prairie Trail School replaced flood-prone O’Plaine School in Gurnee Grade School District 56. The O’Plaine building is due to be razed. District voters approved the $28.5 million construction project November 2010.

The third- through fifth-grade students had their first day at Prairie Trail Jan. 7.

Faculty and staff are now deciding where to place the donated artwork.

Gurnee District 56 does not have a budget for art, district superintendent John Hutton said.

“We try to spend our money so it impacts the children as much as it can. Schools typically put up student work. When you have the opportunity to get work of this quality donated, it’s certainly nice for us,” Hutton said.

Prairie Trail was Foreman’s third donation. She was inspired to start painting nine years ago and took classes through Gurnee Park District.

Her husband is Circuit Judge Fred Foreman, currently chief of the 19th Judicial Circuit. When he was Lake County State’s Attorney, he developed the Children’s Advocacy Center more than 25 years ago.

Stephanie visited the Ad Center in 2007 and said she noticed that the beautiful facility lacked art on the walls. She asked some of her artist friends if they would consider donating artwork. They donated 12 pieces.

Four years ago, Foreman created the Art for Adolescence program.

“The goal is to expose children to artwork created by regular artists and show them this artwork is within their realm, that it’s something they could to themselves and to give them something to look at that will give them some joy,” Foreman said.

About 15 Gurnee-area residents create artwork to donate, Foreman said. So far, she estimated they have donated about 50 pieces. The second donation was to Woodland Elementary School in 2011, accordingn to Foreman.

They paint whimsical, kid-friendly art. Animals and children are often the subject of donated works, she said.

For her personal collection, Foreman likes to use oils to capture photographs she’s taken.

Foreman is in the process of deciding where to make the next art donation. She said it will involve children.

“They’re so important. This just seemed like a good way to help children learn to appreciate self-made art,” Foreman said.

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