For Kinnelon resident and artist Joy Mancini, sculpting is more than the creation of pretty things, but a true method of self expression.
Mancini, a single mother of three, turned to art several years ago while going through a difficult time in her life. For the past several years, she has been painting, drawing and sculpting. Seeing how not only creating a piece but even maintaining it can have a positive affect on a person has inspired Mancini to share her passion with others.
"It's a gift. Every time you polish a piece, it's like a surprise," she said.
Mancini is hoping to share that gift with communities through a fundraising program she initiated called "Joy of Stone." The program involves kids and adults taking turns polishing a sculpture while learning about the process of stone sculpting. Those who wish to polish donate $1 for every minute of polishing.
The artist has already completed a "Joy of Stone" sculpting project with nearly 100 Kinnelon High School students in the Our Lady of the Magnificat Church (OLM) religious school for the "Have a Heart for Jesus" project. Students polished a heart-shaped stone "to remind them to do the right thing," Mancini said.
Now Mancini, a graduate of Parsons School of Design, is working on a bigger project for a church in Brooklyn, the Church of St. Joseph, where she and a partner will fundraise to help restore and polish eight life-sized religious statues. Mancini will carve new statues to replace the existing deteriorating ones.
To create each sculpture will cost about $5,000, including materials and Mancini's time. The church has been working to obtain grant funding for the project, but Mancini's vision goes a step further.
"The church loves the idea of getting the community together to help polish the statues," she said.
Similar to the OLM project, Mancini would encourage participants to donate $1 per minute of polishing to help restore other parts of the church.
Mancini's art work has also been hosted by the Kinnelon Public Library and she is hoping to teach a class there on family art sculpting.
"Just to bring families together to do an art project is just a great thing," she said.
Children's librarian Galina Adair said Mancini's sculpting program for children two years ago was also well-received at the library.
"It was interesting to watch the children's reactions to sculpting because sculpture is three-dimensional artwork and is created by shaping of combined materials," Adair said.
Adair said many children often do not come into contact with sculptures and the program's participants seemed to learn a lot from Mancini.
"For some who signed up, it was a new form of art they had never been exposed to," she said. "For all participants, it was a new and very enjoyable experience."
To learn more about Mancini's artwork or the "Joy of Stone" projects, visit Mancini's website here.