Montessori Masterpieces celebrate 40 years of Education in Living Color at MMS

Some of the world’s most famous paintings are coming to Charleston through a unique collaboration between seven area photographers and artists and students from Mountaineer Montessori School.

Through a project called “Montessori Masterpieces,” students ages 3-14 staged eight living paintings in the community. The scenes were captured digitally and edited into masterpiece images by volunteer photographers, who donated their time and services. The final images were then transformed into canvas paintings by a fine art production house.

The partnership was part of a year long celebration of “Education in Living Color” at Mountaineer Montessori School, 308 20th Street in the University of Charleston neighborhood, which is marking its 40th anniversary. The school serves 125 students ages 3-14.

The paintings will premiere to the public on Thursday, May 18,  at the Capitol Conference Center from 5:00-8:00 p.m. as part of the Downtown Charleston ArtWalk, and go up for bid at “Paint the Town,” the MMS spring gala to be held Saturday, May 20, 7:00-10:00 p.m., at Columbia Gas Transmission. (See the event page for details.) The event will honor three outstanding educators who have enriched the MMS experience through integrated arts programming for a combined 75 years: Barrie Kaufman, Nancy Johnston and Charly Hamilton. (See below)


ArtWalk volunteer sign-up


The Montessori Masterpieces exhibition includes:


Primary I: “Snap the Whip” by Winslow Homer with Burns Exposure Photography



Primary II: “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat with Mike Hall


Lower Elementary I: “School of Athens” by Raphael with Mike Winland



Lower Elementary II: “The Building of the Famous Palace of Khawarnaq” by Behzad with Chris Gosses


Upper Elementary I: “Dancing at the Moulin de la Galette” by Renoir with Mark Wolfe


Upper Elementary II: “General George Washington Resigning His Commission” by John Trumbell with Mark Wolfe



Middle School: “A Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park” by Diego Rivera with Chad Cordell 



After School  Program: “American Gothic” by Grant Wood with JoEllen Zacks




Living and learning history


The Montessori Masterpieces project directly supported and extended the school’s academic curriculum.

To prepare for their recreation of Winslow Homer’s “Snap the Whip,” one class of preschool children learned about life in the 19th century and played classic American games that children their age enjoyed in time before video games and television. Children in first through third grade gained deeper understanding of their early civilization studies by staging scenes from ancient Greece (School of Athens by Raphael) and Persia (Building of the Famous Palace of Khawarnaq by Behzad.)

Upper Elementary students recreated a pivotal scene from their studies of U.S. history this year by staging John Trumbull’s “General George Washington Resigning His Commission.” Latin history and culture was an area of focus for Middle School students and many of the central themes that emerged from their studies were depicted in the painting they staged, Diego Rivera’s “A Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park.”


Celebrating art and artists

The eight “Montessori Masterpieces” will go up for bid on Saturday, May 20 at “Paint the Town,” the school’s spring gala to be held from 7:00-10:00 p.m. at Columbia Gas. The brightest night of the year will highlight the school’s 40 colorful years serving more than 1,000 Charleston children and celebrate the contributions of well-known West Virginia artists and educators who have enriched the MMS experience through integrated arts programming for a combined 75 years: Barrie Kaufman, Nancy Johnston and Charly Hamilton.

The evening will feature cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, entertainment by Steven Himes and The Voodoo Katz, live and silent auctions and a “Party and Paint” station offering creative fun for grownups. Proceeds benefit the school’s teacher appreciation, financial aid and specialty programming funds.

Tickets start at $75. For more information, please see the event page or call 304/342-7870.



Sponsors for “Paint the Town” are:

DaVinci Sponsor: Benjamin and Sarah Bailey

Monet Sponsors: Advantage Technology and BrickStreet Foundation

Picasso Sponsors: Moses Premier Auto Group, TransCanada and Ben and JoEllen Zacks

Warhol Sponsors: Anonymous; Aric Margolis Architecture, PLLC; Frank and Camilla Baer; Michael J. Del Guidice; Randy and Kari Peyette; and the Stevens Family.

Kandinsky Sponsors: Clifton and Katie Clark; Club K9 LLC; Eagle Research Corporation; Carrie Gosselink, DPM, Bone and Joint Surgeons; Hassan Family Dentistry; Joseph Jenkins and Susana Duarte; Tod, Paula, Sophia and Caroline Kaufman; Blaire Malkin and Rob Bastress; McQueen Davis PLLC; Selling West Virginia Real Estate Professionals; Dr. and Dr. Shawn and Jean Storm; and Ryan and Kate White.


Founded in 1976, MMS is the largest and longest-established Montessori school in West Virginia, serving 125 students ages 3-14. It is home to the only Montessori middle school in the state.