2013-07-17 / Arts and Entertainment

A Summer Program for the Creative Kid

Garrison Art Center
By Bella Schliemann


Students at the Garrison Art Center’s Summer Arts program last week. Students at the Garrison Art Center’s Summer Arts program last week. Twelve-year-old Marina sits on her knees, paint covering her arms and legs as she outlines a mask on a huge piece of paper. She finishes her sketch, and with a careful hand begins to paint the eyes of the mask with her classmates chatting next to her.

Marina is a repeat participant in the Garrison Art Center’s Summer Arts program, every summer since she was only 5 years old. This is a common scene at the program, where kids like Marina are exercising their creative muscles instead of lounging around the pool or heading off to day camp like other kids their age.

For the past 25 years, the program has given kids from Garrison and its surrounding areas the opportunity to use their imaginations to create works of art. Executive director Carinda Swann explained that at the end of the threeweek session there is a huge art show for the participants’ families that displays each student’s hard work over the course of the program. Kids in the program are challenged with different projects that cover a range of artistic mediums, from photography and film to painting and sculpting. The program serves kids from the ages of 5 to 13 and gives them the chance to develop their skills in more than just one area of art. During a recent visit to the program, the PCN&R was shown just how much the students love being a part of it.

Annie Chesnut Annie Chesnut The first classroom that the PCN&R saw was led by Ada Cruz, a professional sculptor, potter, jewelry maker, and painter who has been working at the program for 13 years. The class was a mixture of kids from 6th, 7th, and 8th grade, who were hard at work on their current project, designing and painting giant masks. The participants seemed to be enjoying their work immensely, and Cruz said that repeat participants in the program are very common. Ada explained that the masks were going to be debuted at the art show in a short film, which will be created by a student helper. The collaboration between film and painting gives the students an opportunity to create a new and exciting piece.

The younger group of kindergarteners and 1st graders was being taught outside by Christina DiMarco, a professional paper marbling expert and bookmaker. The little hands of 6- and 7-year-olds were busily coloring away in sketchbooks using watercolor crayons, and Christina explained that the sketchbooks were created by the students themselves. The covers were made by using paper marbling techniques, and were bound together with string that the participants learned to sew together. The drawings ranged from pictures of the trees and water around them to swirls of different colors, with some rare participants using their arms and legs as their canvases.

There is never a dull moment for the participants at the program, and Marina will be sad to see it end next year, which will be her last. She hopes that after her time ends, she can become a helper with the program so she can continue to spend her summers working on her painting, her favorite part of the program.

While motivations for coming to the Garrison Art Center range from kid to kid, it was clear that on the day this reporter visited every participant was happy to be there. Marina certainly was, and with so many of the kids being repeat participants, it is clear that the projects the program offers make the kids hungry for more.

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