Camp Creative

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Local Art Camp excels at shaping future talent

By Kati Burns

The Selma Times-Journal

From outside the large brick building that is Dallas Academy, the structure almost appears abandoned. With the end of the school year quickly fading into the past, students and teachers alike are enjoying the beauty of the summer months. On the ground floor of the academy building, students are enjoying quite a different kind of summer, however.

The City of Selma Ceramic Art Program’s June Art Camp 2006 began on June 5 and will end on Friday. The camp boasts 48 kids this year, with another 30 already signed up for the July Art Camp that will begin on July 10.

On the ground floor of the academy, the scene almost resembles a colony of ants, moving expertly from one work station to the next. Divided into six different groups and assigned group-colored name tags, the children, ages 8 through 16, take part in various art projects throughout the day, which lasts from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

“We rotate the groups between stations throughout the day,” said camp instructor Ruth Bjelke. “Their colored name tags tells which group they’re in and their groups are either group blue, green, yellow, orange and so forth. They go by a schedule we keep on the wall that tells where they’re supposed to be at what time.”

Art camp director Candi Duncan said the purpose of the camp is “to hopefully help further the children’s interests in art that may potentially reveal a budding artist.”

And a budding artist has plenty of room to practice his / her skill at the art camp for there are many different art projects to choose from, including ceramic and pottery making, painting, wire art sculpting, weaving, spooling, sewing and cooking, as well as, many more. Not only

do children get the chance to discover a newfound talent but they also help the instructors cook the lunch meal everyday, set the tables and clean the dishes, teaching them respect and responsibility.

“I love it here,” said 11-year-old Lauren Yeldell, as she diligently, along with 11-year-old Lizzie Reeves, put garlic on bread that would be eaten during the lunch that day. “I like the spooling and the weaving part of the camp. I learned how to do that here.” Yeldell and Reeves have both attended the art camp for the last four years.

In one corner of the building, a designated group of students were in charge of baking the bread, while in another, children quietly painted ceramic snowmen.

“Painting the snowmen at this table teaches the children coordination,” said camp instructor Linda Oliver. “We try to keep the project mixed up because we already have four students from this camp that are coming to the July camp. They will be painting Santa Clauses in July.”

The cost for the art camp is $100 and there are still plenty of slots available for participation in the July camp. The camp can hold no more than 50 children.

Large canvases of various art pieces line the walls of the main area of business and molds of human-like faces hang from the bulletin board in the hallway, a testament to past proud creative works of abstract art. The soft murmur and restrained nature of the children as they worked on each project was proof of just how organized and concise each session of the camp was.

Two of Selma’s local artists teach at the summer camp, Vicky Sommerville and Charlie Lucas.

World-renowned artist Lucas, also known as the Tinman, is in charge of wire art sculpting, a class that involves wood, colorful pieces of wire, paper and staples.

“I get to be a kid myself by teaching these kids,” said Lucas, who has been with the camp for three years. “I get the opportunity to show a kid that he has a beautiful mind. Each of these wire boards that they make speaks a different language. I want them to get the concept that they can put scrap things together and make something. I want them to leave it the way they introduced it; I don’t take anyone’s work out. It only adds to the art.”

Lucas’ class worked in groups, with each group forming their own wire sculpture. Some included dogs while others included fish. One older student, Taylor Lane, is known as a Junior Instructor and is responsible for helping Lucas guide the younger children while they work with the wood and wire. Lane actually had some of his artwork placed in a museum after last year’s camp.

Another favorite of the camp, weaving, is led by local weaver Nancy Kenfield. Children had the opportunity to make such things as colorful purses, bags and pot holders by using an instrument called a Structo Loom, which Kenfield said is actually used in weaving schools.

“I have a ball doing this,” Kenfield said. “When you hang around with kids and do stuff like this, you realize how much fun you can have without having to spend a lot of money. The younger kids catch onto this really quickly.”

The Art Camp has also in the past provided financial support for children who wish to come to the camp, but cannot afford the cost.

“We have some kids come from far away to be here,” said instructor Jane Singley. “My granddaughter is coming from Oklahoma City for the July camp. It’s all she’s talked about. I enjoy doing this. I’m here all the time anyway for the regular ceramics classes that are still going on. We have a lot of fun and these are all good kids.”

The Selma Art Program is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, The National Endowment for the Arts and The Selma Arts Council. Several slots for the July art camp are still available. For more information about Selma’s Art Camp, call 874-2143, 874-2147 or 875-2193.