Teacher’s car stolen with students’ artwork inside

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico art teacher said when a thief made off with her car, her students were the real victims. While what was taken wasn’t worth much monetarily, it was precious to some budding artists.

It was the first year some northern New Mexico fifth graders at Chimayo Elementary had a visual arts class. Inside their teacher’s car were creations each one was so proud of and soon to be displayed.

“They drew self-portraits of themselves and the colored them in the FOV art style using wild bold colors,” said Art Teacher Rebecca Chornenky. “They’ve really made very bold strides.”

Chornenky, of Santa Fe, is their instructor through the program Art Smart. She said the non-profit partners with schools that do not have full-time art teachers to provide art classes.

Her students had just finished a 12-week program when the holiday break began.

“So, I took their work here to Santa Fe to matte it and prepare it for an exhibit that was going to be the students first exhibit,” Chornenky said.

On Friday night, every single masterpiece – about 60 in all – disappeared when Chornenky’s car was stolen in near the State Capitol.

“It breaks my heart because these students have really taken a lot of creative risks. They’ve put their hearts and souls and minds into this work and I just want them to be reunited with it,” Chornenky said.

Chornenky said she filed a police report and posted information about the car and the art on social media, but ultimately she just wants justice for her kids who have committed so much to their projects.

“Some people write off children’s art as being cute but I think its anything but. It’s incredibly powerful and shows the growth mindsets necessary to create and transform something truthful and joyful and may be beautiful to put in their environment,” Chornenky said.

Chornenky said she is meeting with the 5th graders next week. If their art has not been recovered by then, she will give them new materials and time to work so that the exhibit can still take place.

The stolen vehicle is a silver 2006 Land Rover SUV. If you know anything, call Santa Fe Police.


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