She wanted to keep her mother's memory and spirit alive, so Serena Bocchino, a professional artist and resident of Basking Ridge, along with her siblings established the Lucia Bocchino Fund for Promising Artists.
The fund, established after Lucia Bocchino’s death in 2007, is the sponsor of the Children’s Exhibition of Inspirational Women, hosted by the Somerset Hills YMCA, 140 Mount Airy Road. Deadline for submissions is May 4.
“We’re very interested in helping children think about who inspires them and to take some time to really think about that, and to encourage them to make art – because it seems like there aren’t many competitions available for children these days,” said Bocchino. Bocchino has said she herself was inspired by her mother's artwork to begin her own art career.
“My mother was happiest when she was engaged in her art work and when she was with children, so it just made sense to create this fund to help children express themselves through art,” said Bocchino.
Students can enter work in five categories; for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 and special needs. There will be a celebration and awards event at the YMCA from 1 to 3 p.m. on May 14.
All artwork will be prominently displayed at the Somerset Hills YMCA from May 7-21.
The theme of the event is “Who Inspires You?” Young artists are invited to create artwork in honor of the women who inspire them.
In previous years, students have submitted paintings and drawings of public figures such as Michelle Obama. Other inspirations have included local residents, such as Shannon McNamara, 17, a Ridge High School senior who received the Outstanding Youth Achievers’ Recognition at the United Nations for establishing a reading exchange program to empower young girls who live in rural Tanzania.
Bocchino said she was inspired by her mother’s nurturing and inspiring approach to life.
Lucia Bocchino had six children and she imparted her artistry to all of them in one way or another, she said.
“We all appreciate or create art in some way. One of my brothers is a writer, another a musician, and my other three siblings truly appreciate art,” said Bocchino.
Bocchino’s father, William, wrote several books about computers, worked as a consultant and taught at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Bocchino, following in both her mother’s and father’ footsteps, works as a professional artist and also teaches drawing at Raritan Valley Community College.
She said her mother’s approach to life was extraordinary.
“She inspired a whole community. When she was asked to donate her time to the church, and the schools, she gave very generously,” said Bocchino.
“I learned a lot from my mother. She taught me how to draw hands and feet and she taught me to give,” said Bocchino.
Bocchino said she is keeping the fund alive through a generous donation from Basil Alkazzi, an art collector in Monaco, and the volunteer work of Paul Spiessbach, a resident of Hanover, who handles the accounting duties for the fund. Spiessbach’s daughter lives in Basking Ridge.
Bocchino also attributes the success of the exhibition to 25-year-old Jessica Prakopcyk, who serves as the coordinator for the show at the YMCA.
“Jessica is in charge of the dance and art program at the YMCA. She helps us hang the show, and she is an amazing and giving person with endless energy,” said Bocchino.
All participants in the show will receive a congratulatory ribbon and winners will receive cash prizes and art supplies.
For Bocchino, encouraging self-expression in children and nurturing an awareness of those whom they admire, helps to keep the wheel of inspiration turning.
Artwork must not be folded, and must be 8.5 X 11” or 11 X 17” in any medium. All pieces should include the name of the ‘Inspirational Woman,’ and the name, grade, school and town of the artist.
Artwork may be dropped off or mailed to: The Somerset Hills YMCA, ATTN: Jessica Prakopcyk, 140 Mt. Airy Rd, Basking Ridge, 07920.
For more detailed information and to access a submission form, visit www.luciabocchinofund.org, visit the Somerset Hills YMCA website, call 908-766-7898 ext. 1544 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.