Each year, the SING FOR HOPE GALA seeks to embody for our supporters the creativity and generosity that underscore our programs year-round.

One way that we do this is through VOLUNTEER ARTIST PERFORMANCES at our event. Another way is through the beautiful, upcycled decorations that adorn our TriBeCa Rooftop gala space – one-of-a-kind art pieces created by our program participants in collaboration with our Volunteer Artists.

A peony-inspired paper lighting creation by Sing for Hope Volunteer Artists Allison Patrick and Elizabeth Van Buren of Zipper8.

This year, our unique, eco-friendly gala decorations are the product of a collaborative Youth Arts workshop led by SFH Volunteer Artists Allison Patrick and Elizabeth Van Buren of ZIPPER8 LIGHTING. Allison and Elizabeth, friends since childhood and internationally acclaimed designers, have been Sing for Hope Volunteer Artists since 2013.

At their SFH Youth Arts workshop on recent sunny afternoon in midtown Manhattan, Allison and Elizabeth asked each student to design a pattern, a repeated motif, that would form the basis of each created piece. Armed with stacks of books full of patterns and textiles from around the world and throughout history, our students identified the sources of their inspiration, and set to work designing original patterns all their own. One student, Cary Robles, who dreams of being an engineer, was inspired to work on a geometric pattern showcasing her skills, while other students drew inspiration from circles and floral patterns.

Students worked with the SFH Gala colors, a range of pinks and purples. A focused intensity permeated the room while each student created a pattern in a variety of tones, shapes, and styles.

Once finished, the students’ patterns were used to form the basis of illuminated flowers inspired by hydrangea blooms. Made entirely from paper, each piece is informed by the geometry found in nature. And each piece is a testament to our ability to create arrestingly beautiful art from the simplest of recycled materials, if only given proper guidance and a safe space in which to create.

With Allison’s background in architecture and Elizabeth’s in theatrical costume design, the women like to say that they consider their work a melding of structure and drama. In Allison’s words, “We strive to re-think how we use materials. I hope that, after experiencing these works, people will look at the world a bit differently, as if the kaleidoscope has shifted ever so slightly, and they find a bit of inspiration.”

Students showcase their designs, which will be used as the basis for this year’s Sing for Hope Gala decorations, hand-crafted by Zipper8 Lighting.

“Working with young students, and being SFH Volunteer Artists,” Allison continues, “is crucial to us in our lives and careers as artists. It is so important for people to learn about and appreciate art, its history and its place in our and others’ cultures. SFH provides an opportunity for students to explore their creativity, and to challenge themselves, while learning about many different art forms. And as native New Yorkers, volunteering with SFH is the best way we can think of to engage with students in our city and make some art. Art For All!”

Related Articles


While the Sing for Hope Pianos were still adorning our city’s streets and parks, our Youth Arts team was hard at work prepping for another summer mainstay here at Sing for Hope: the Arts Intensive. This year, we brought together over 30 creative professionals from our Volunteer Artist roster with high schoolers from across NYC for two memorable weeks of arts study. With workshops ranging from Samba dancing to ballet, songwriting to a cappella singing, and a host of other artistic pursuits, the Sing for Hope Youth Arts Intensive is free of charge, and encourages participation from students who may not otherwise have access to quality arts education. By pairing our Volunteer Artists with dedicated students, the program creates a rigorous, diverse, and supportive environment for exploring the arts.