|A summer camp for the perfect mix of education and fun|
Guardian National Correspondent
Published: Jun 08, 2012
School is almost out, but learning doesn’t have to stop just because summer break is here. In fact, education can take fun and creative angles with art-focused summer camps – especially at The Place for Art, where their three summer class options for young children through to teenagers keep learning alive.
Since 2001, artist Kim Smith has been providing a space where children with a gift in art can grow and learn at The Place for Art. His after school and weekend classes have included children wishing to explore art to teens who have been accepted into revered art institutions like Savannah College of Art and Design and Emily Carr.
“The focus has always been the education of art more than the product of art,” said Smith. “The philosophy here is that art is a process more than a product so children come here and will learn skills and concepts and the principles and elements of art in a more structured way.”
“You’re not coming here to create something to hang on the wall. Kids need to experience, explore and have fun with art, have a space to make mistakes and learn, and this is that space.”
Discovery for children
His summer camp classes will be no different, offering children and teens an opportunity to explore art history, art-making techniques and a range of media through a variety of creative exercises.
“Discovering Great Artists and Calligraphy for Children”, being held July 10-July 27, will teach kids ages nine and older about a range of international and local artists – even one of their own choice – through creative art lessons. After examining their biography and work, and maybe even viewing a DVD or book, students will set out to create pieces in the artists’ signature styles, exploring drawing, painting, collage, and even making their own paint.
“It combines art history with hands-on art activities,” said Smith. “So it’s more than just coming to have fun with art, you’re actually learning something about an artist and maybe a particular style and genre of art, art technique and art history.”
Another class that uses creativity to explore the world around them is “Coral Reef Artventure”, scheduled for July 30-August 17. Children ages eight and older will learn about an important Bahamian ecosystem, the coral reef, through art exercises that draw from research and field trips. Joining Smith will be a guest marine biologist who will contribute her scientific background to the lessons.
“The focus is the value and importance of coral reef ecosystems,” explained Smith. “So again it’s a variety of techniques but it’s that education component where kids are learning something too. It just brings the coral reef to life.”
Bahamian architecture for teens
A great highlight about summer offerings from The Place for Art is their one-of-a-kind camp on Bahamian architecture for children twelve years and older. Being the only course of its kind, it brings a keen interest of architecture into the art realm. Having two parts, this course is heavier on theory at first and then gives way to beautiful practical applications.
Level One, held July 10-July 27, invites the students to discover what architecture is and how it functions in the landscape and affects everyday life. While studying the history of architecture from prehistoric times through to the modern era through a special booklet carefully put together by Smith, they also work towards creating their own illustrated glossary of terms, helping them understand the language of the craft.
“It’s not so much hands-on in level one, it’s very education-heavy,” said Smith. “But without level one, they wouldn’t be able to do level two, which is the practical application.”
In Level Two, July 20-August 17, students set out to design and then build a model of a residential or commercial space that incorporates features of Bahamian architecture. The class in its entirety, says Smith, is meant for anyone who wants to gain a thorough understanding and appreciation for the landscape around them.
“This summer program is not to push children into an architectural career, it’s more about building an awareness and appreciation for what is Bahamian, because they are going to be a part of this landscape in the future,” he said.
“We used to have a guided tour of the Marina Village by the late Jackson Burnside and I know the kids enjoyed meeting with Jackson and talking with him, and I know he enjoyed sharing Marina Village with the children,” he added.
“We still visit it, and they get to see what architects like Jackson did and that you can build something new to look old. After three weeks they’re able to discern ‘Does this fit, or does this not fit?’ ‘Do I like it, or do I not like it and why?’”
The perfect formula for an unforgettable experience
For Smith, the educational component of his classes just adds weight to the overall rich experience his students get at The Place for Art, giving them a space to experiment and have fun but also the tools for a strong and well-rounded artistic practice should they wish to pursue it further.
“Teaching is giving back to the community as well as sharing,” he said. “Being a natural born artist, I feel it’s important I give back and share. I’ve always enjoyed working with children. I love teaching my classes.”
“I get a big kick out of little children over the years who say ‘Mr. Smith, can I come again tomorrow’? And I have to say ‘No, because I have other boys and girls coming tomorrow’,” he laughed. “That’s the biggest compliment, when you get children asking if they can come tomorrow.”
Space is very limited for each class. All materials and instruction are included. To find out more, call 393-8834, 557-9979 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit them online at www.theplaceforart.org.