From a Global Gallery to art-filled classrooms.
Vittoria La Neve got an early start on stepping into the world beyond school, serving as a representative on the Vaughan Youth Advisory Cabinet while she was a Grade 11 and 12 student at St. Elizabeth CHS. It was there she met Jennifer Corriero, a fellow Catholic student, and founder of TakingITGlobal, an online network bringing together youth and educators from across the world to tackle global problems. While working together, Vittoria founded the Global Gallery, an opportunity for youth around the world to share their art and inspire others to be more engaged with the issues facing both their local and the global community. She found the opportunity to help influence young minds so inspiring, it made her want to make it her full-time career. She currently teaches at St. Raphael the Archangel CES, where she still finds ways to bring people closer together and closer to God through art.
I was already volunteering for TakingITGlobal, when Jennifer came over to my house and saw some of my canvases. She loved them, and encouraged me to show them, and while that was inspiring, it led me to believe there was a lot of other kids who might not realize they have this God-given talent. I don’t even know how to turn on a computer, but I’d taken piano lessons since I was four, and I loved to draw, so it got me thinking of ways we could bring the art and the technology together. And that’s where the development of the Global Gallery started.
The Global Gallery is a place where people can share their art, whether it’s about a specific issue or just to show people what kind of a difference you can make. People responded to it immediately, and soon we had people submitting from across the world. The art was inspiring, but ultimately it really showed me there was a world outside the classroom, and outside the community. And I just thought if I could give even a little bit of this inspiration to kids, how awesome a teacher could I be?
I think incorporating art into that came totally naturally. It can be difficult to talk to kids, not only about what their religion is, but what they wonder about. I don’t know if we ask enough questions to the students to think about what it means to be a child of God. To talk to a five-year-old about that, you really have to centre it to who they are, and what their interests and talents are, and what it means to be connected to a community.
The arts always helped me discuss my faith in a way that wasn’t just pencil and paper, or having someone talk to me about it. And I think Catholic schools, as much as we have to be that hub for education, we also have to inspire them so they can go home and talk about it and live with it. And I think the arts can really be the initial point for a child for learning the basics of life.
Art is a language. Whatever form it is, whether it’s dance or music or drama or the visual arts or anything, it invokes a moment of time for you, and helps you meditate on the situation at hand. I think that’s something that, even if we don’t speak the same language, even if we’re not of the same faith, it’s something that touches everyone in the same way. It’s one of those things that brings us together.
Inspiring things are out there, we just have to seek them out and make time for them.