Student artists help shelter pets find fur-ever homes

May 21, 2024

Wareham High School art students are making a paw-sitive impact at nearby animal shelters.

Wareham High School students in Colleen Cuneo’s Art 1 class partnered with Lighthouse Animal Shelter in New Bedford and It’s All About the Animals in Rochester to make portraits of dogs and cats currently up for adoption. 

Students agreed to give the artwork to new owners as a token of appreciation for adopting an animal in need, Cuneo said. 

She said her students’ decision to gift the artwork was “surprising.” 

“I thought that it might be difficult for them to give artwork away,” she said. “But they really embraced giving it to the adopters.”

Cuneo first found the idea on social media and thought that it would be a good idea to try with her students, she said.

Cuneo said that Lighthouse Animal Shelter in particular was excited about the partnership.

“I think it sends a good message about the local shelters and making them known and aware in the community and helping some animals out,” Cuneo said.

Since this project closed out the school year, students could make their portrait in any style they wanted, she said. 

“Their own styles could come out into it, which you really see in some of the portraits,” Cuneo said. 

She said that students enjoyed the open-endedness of the project, which allowed them to be more invested in their work. Students were trying to learn realism and to capture the qualities of the animal, but could take the project in any direction that they wanted, Cuneo said.

Cuneo is not new to animal portrait art and has a side business doing animal portraits outside of school, she said. 

Cuneo said her skills from her side business helped her instruct students who learned specific techniques like how to follow the direction and length of the animal’s fur in their drawings.

Cuneo said she intends to keep the project going next year. 

“I’m all about rescuing the animals,” Cuneo said.