Senior project becomes ‘passion project’

PV senior collects and sells artwork for LBGTQ community

To+support+at-risk+LGBTQ+youth+who+have+been+kicked+out+of+their+homes%2C++%0APV+senior+Emily+McAuliffe+is+working+on+their+senior+project+to+collect+and+sell+art+from+students+and+unpublished+artists.
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Senior project becomes ‘passion project’

To support at-risk LGBTQ youth who have been kicked out of their homes,  
PV senior Emily McAuliffe is working on their senior project to collect and sell art from students and unpublished artists.

To support at-risk LGBTQ youth who have been kicked out of their homes, PV senior Emily McAuliffe is working on their senior project to collect and sell art from students and unpublished artists.

Katie Mullaney

To support at-risk LGBTQ youth who have been kicked out of their homes, PV senior Emily McAuliffe is working on their senior project to collect and sell art from students and unpublished artists.

Katie Mullaney

Katie Mullaney

To support at-risk LGBTQ youth who have been kicked out of their homes, PV senior Emily McAuliffe is working on their senior project to collect and sell art from students and unpublished artists.

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Pascack Valley senior Emily McAuliffe is working on a student art and service project to collect art from students and unpublished artists. They are going to sell the pieces of artwork and allocate the money to fund at-risk LGBTQ youth who have been kicked out of their homes.

Contributed by Emily McAuliffe
Artwork donated to New Alternatives by sophomore Kristen Kiernan.

“Living with people who don’t understand a certain part of your life or are even hateful of that part of your life can be a heartbreakingly difficult way to grow up,” McAuliffe said. “Everyone deserves to be treated better than to experience prejudice, but I also know that so many people are missing out on knowing amazing individuals that they chose not to have in their life because of that prejudice.”

McAuliffe has decided that they will donate the profits to New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth, a non-profit recreational center for homeless teens, in New York City.

“Overall, the people working there seemed very genuine and I am happy to be able to support them any way I can, even if that just means more people know that the organization exists,” McAuliffe said.

Contributed by Emily McAuliffe
Artwork donated to New Alternatives by sophomore Kristen Kiernan.

New Alternatives organizes dinners, sets up clothing and hygiene drives, provide STD testing, writing courses, HIV and AIDS support groups, social work, and general counseling for anyone who goes to them for help. McAuliffe has recently set up a hygiene drive in PV history teacher Marisa Mathias’ classroom to donate to New Alternatives.

“New Alternatives also allows people to use their address when applying for jobs or receiving mail, since being without an address often proves to directly block people from being able to help themselves get to their feet,” McAullife said.

PV sophomore Kristen Kienan said Emily cares about everything that New Alternatives does and knows they worked “especially hard” on this project.

“This is not only a senior project for school but a passion project for Emily,” Kiernan said.

McAuliffe said they usually go around PV asking students who have their own art. Beyond asking students directly, they talk to teachers and members of the local public libraries to start promoting their art drive.

Contributed by Emily McAuliffe
Artwork donated to New Alternatives by sophomore Kristen Kiernan.

Kieran and PV seniors Brendan Broesler, Holly Thoms, and Devin Panno have all given McAuliffe pieces of their artwork, but McAullife said that more projects from other people are coming.

“I chose to donate my portrait pieces for Emily’s project because I felt they were some of my stronger pieces,” Kieran said. “A lot of my art is centered around female portraits and by giving my male portrait, I think it showed versatility in the work I do.”

Along with raising donations, McAuliffe hopes that people have more of an interest in student artwork from this project.

“I want people to see the art that people are creating because they are passionate about it and have something to say rather than people who make art so that they can profit or for college portfolios,” McAuliffe said. “I hope that they have an outlet for that now.”

While not a self-proclaimed artist, McAuliffe uses art as an outlet and said they really enjoy painting. McAuliffe works on the crew for the school plays and musicals, but mostly just does art “as it comes.”

Contributed Emily McAuliffe
Emily McAuliffe makes patches that are donated to New Alternatives.

McAuliffe was inspired to start the project after they would alter clothes and had hand painted a few t-shirts which received a lot of compliments. During school one day, someone said to McAuliffe, “I would totally buy that [painted shirt]” which they thought was one of the coolest responses.

Along with painting, McAuliffe taught themself embroidery by Googling three different stitches and learning from those to make small patches.

Over the summer, McAuliffe thought that if they keep making patches, they could eventually sell them and create an online store. They then realized that they did not need an income and wanted to support the LGBTQ community.  

“It could be really helpful for the LGBT community, and I’m also on the board for the GSA (Genders and Sexualities Alliance) so I was very much in the headspace of thinking about LGBT teenagers,” McAuliffe said. “I realized that a lot of kids at PV are lucky enough that they have support at the very least coming from the school itself and a lot of other people don’t have that so I was thinking about how I can incorporate [selling artwork and the LGBT community] together.”

McAuliffe joined the GSA as a junior when it was a small club of around 10 members with history teacher and girls basketball coach Jeff Jasper as the club adviser. They were also familiar with a lot of the members through PV theater.

Contributed by Emily McAuliffe
Artwork donated to New Alternatives by sophomore Kristen Kiernan.

“I love that I can talk to people positively about coming to terms with their own identity, the same way I did entering high school,” McAuliffe said. “They can see me and all the other upperclassmen on the GSA and hear about how we’ve grown as individuals and as a community.”

Kieran said that because she and McAuliffe are on the GSA board together, the project “hits home” for both of them.

McAuliffe described the GSA meeting as a class that used to be packed with people, but how it has fallen down in numbers. McAuliffe, as the consultant of the club, is part of a committee that is working to increase the number of club members.

“I know I took a lot of comfort in seeing the upperclassmen at PV and seeing how confident they were in speaking about their sexuality.” McAuliffe said, “I love that I can, hopefully, be that for other people.”

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