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Queens Botanical to host ‘Inspirational Art’ class

Queens Botanical Garden will host a special free Black History Month program called “Inspirational Art,” led by self-taught artist Ophelia Simmons, on Saturday at noon. No pre-registration required.

Director of education Patty Kleinberg said, “I first met Ms. Simmons when QBG was in the planning stages of Green Horizons — an annual environmental education event for middle school students.”

Simmons is an employee of the Magnolia Tree Earth Center — a community organization located in Brooklyn. “I became quite intrigued as she described her paintings on stone and upon seeing samples of her work, I felt this was a story that needed to be shared with others,” Kleinberg said.

Through its participatory research program, QBG has gathered people from all corners of the world to share their stories of family traditions — all part of the garden’s mission of celebrating the rich cultural connections between people and plants. According to Kleinberg, “Our mission of fostering environmental stewardship has equal priority and seeing. Simmons’ moving portraits and paintings on stone seem to connect these two driving forces of the garden’s programming in a very moving way.”

Simmons does not come from a different region of the world, but as an African American, she has her own special journey to share, Kleinberg said.

“A work of art is usually an object of interest; it is usually admired, then perhaps valued by its viewer,” Simmons said. :To me, as a self-taught artist, a work of art arouses my curiosity and inspires me to ponder about the feelings the artist felt during the time the work was being created. So now when I create works of art on stone I instinctively try to express an inspirational message to motivate or at least help people deal with good and bad experiences as well as promote blessings of good health and long life.”

She added: “Stone Art has helped me through many battles and celebrations within my lifetime. I have benefited in so many ways that I refer to my art work as therapy.”

Inspirational Art is not an art class — participants will not learn the basics of painting on stone. Although Simmons will share her techniques, this program is more about a cultural and spiritual journey — a story rich with personal growth and exploration. This is a program that showcases the very essence of Queens Botanical Garden and its hunger for partnerships with philosophers, healers, students, universities, environmental groups, historians, scientists, writers, educators, and artists like Simmons.

Located at 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, Queens Botanical Garden is easily accessible by car, train, or bus. Admission is free. Parking is available in the Garden’s lot on Dahlia Avenue. For travel directions and more information call 718-886-3800.

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