The gymnasium at the Hewlett-East Rockaway Jewish Centre looked more like a magical forest of art than a place for playing sports on Wednesday evening.
Artwork made by all nine classes at the centre's nursery school lined the walls and crowded the floor as part of the school's annual art show.
The theme for the evening was "celebrating the art of food."
"We wanted to incorporate something that the children would understand," Nursery School Director Cheryl Karp said.
The food theme came about, in part, because of the Jewish Centre's year-long Torah-writing celebration.
"We decided to call it 'a taste of Torah,'" Karp said. "In every [portion] that's written, there's a little bit about food. There's always food throughout Judaism."
Instead of just throwing up pieces of paper on pieces of canvas, Karp and her art director, Rebecca Osder, made the gym come to life. Some sections of the show had a restaurant theme, while others gave the illusion of being in nature.
"We have more than 2,000 pieces of artwork," Karp said. "The beauty of this is that [the student's] artwork is not just put in one corner. You can find a 2-year-old's art work with a 3-year-old's and a 4-year-old's. When the parents come and look at their child's artwork, they really have to look at everybody's."
Many of the pieces were made from recyclable materials. Fathers joined students during a past art class in order to make trees from used cereal boxes. Fake food carts were also made from reused material.
Students worked all school year creating enough art to fill the large area. All of the pieces came straight from the artists' minds, without much specific direction from Osder.
"The children will read a book with the teacher and, based on the book they've read, they'll use their own artistic impression of what they see," Karp said. "Everything they do, they do on their own. When [the children] see all this, it becomes very important and is wonderful for their self-esteem."
On top of showing parents the finished products, Karp and Osder worked hard to make sure that the entire art process was on display.
"We took some of the words that the children were saying as they were working on their art and we posted them in different spots with some of their creations," Osder said. "We took some photographs as well. ... I know, as a parent, that helps me appreciate what the children did even more."
The school will keep the expo intact through the weekend, giving the entire community a chance to view the work.