We are half way through GRACE’s Summer Art Camp and I have gained firsthand experience with the art education of children.
Beginning with Ashley Well’s first week of “Undersea Worlds,” the kids worked with various recycled materials to create jellyfish, wire sea creatures, and a coral reef that culminated in a dynamic art show exploring the mysteries of the deep sea. The diversity of materials encouraged the kids to expand their horizons and no longer think “plastic bag” or “colored wire,” but see floating jellyfish and menacing sharks. By the end of the first week I feel the kids left with a new appreciation of the unique applications of ordinary materials.
The second week of camp entitled “Mixed Media Madness” taught by Erin Antognoli focused on compositional elements of artwork in collage and paper mache techniques. Working with contact paper, the kids selected images from magazines and transferred them into multilayer collages. Rather than a single work of art from a simple art class, the projects promoted completed complex works that incorporated several smaller pieces. The kids began thinking as established artists do about creating a rich composition within a final project that resulted in extravagantly decorated paper mache constructions or entire books containing collage-covered pages.
The third week “Everything but a Brush” taught by Doug Moulden exposed the children to a brand new technique for creating art in his use of plastic syringes to apply paint to a prepared plywood surface. Along with the new technique, Moulden incorporated discussions on the varying colors and textures throughout the world to further educate the kids and encourage progression in their work. At the end of the week, each of the 3-4 plywood paintings the children completed were hung around the room creating a sophisticated art exhibition for the parents. Not only did the interesting use of syringes provide a new experience for the kids, the exposure to something unseen promoted new worldly observations by the kids, demonstrated in the focused painting of just the wheel of a shopping cart, or the sense of movement expressed by the painting of a wild tree on fire-like leaves.
Each artist has brought a personal perspective to the classes requiring the kids to experience their world in new and exciting ways. As each week progresses, so to is the progression of the kids’ artwork clearly visible in each culminating art show. This progression fuels my observation that the art education of younger generations is vital to the future of art’s presence in society. While I enjoy seeing the kids excited to return for another week, the most rewarding aspect of camp so far has been hearing the kids chatter about the projects they plan to start at home. The encouragement of the kids to create art on their own is the real inspiration and lasting legacy of art camp.