For the past four years, McKenzie Shiver has looked forward to summer camp at the Gadsden Arts Center & Museum. “It helps you learn things you didn’t know could be possible. Every year I come here and it inspires me more. Every year there’s new stuff,” said the 10-year-old.
Variety is part of the plan for Gadsden ArtsEducation Director Anissa Ford. With six themed, weeklong camps, she encourages participants to broaden their own definition of art.
“Showing our campers that art can be anything” is one of Ford’s biggest goals. “Art is symbolic, it’s weird, it’s magical, it’s storytelling and it’s collaboration.”
This year, the second week of camp focused on the intersection of motion and sound with visual art. In an ingenious convergence with endless opportunities, camp instructors developed a wide diversity of activities including a conversation about an oftenoverlooked art movement.
Gadsden Arts education intern Victoria DeBlasio said, “Unless you’re an art historian, Futurism is not something that comes up because it got a little lost in the transition to contemporary art.”
The Futurism movement emerged in Italy in the early 20th century and it emphasized “speed and how technology is constantly moving and changing.”
After showing examples of Futurist works, DeBlasio challenged campers to create their own interpretations. Nineyear- old Ariel Chandler chose to depict a soaring skateboarder and she added colors that reinforced the motion of her imagery. “The red paint is for the skater to go fast and the yellow paint is for calm skating.” Like McKenzie, Ariel has been coming to Gadsden Arts’ summer camps for many years, and one of her favorite parts of being in the space is the ability to tour the museum’s exhibitions.
For Ford, this is an important part of the campers’ experience, and she recognizes it’s a part of a learning continuum. “We’ve done lessons based on our permanent collection and based on what is on display in the galleries. It’s that first step for lifelong museumgoers. Get them here enjoying making art and then eventually they come to the galleries and they enjoying looking at art too.”
Campers have no trouble enjoying the art making process, especially when they’re taking inspiration from Jackson Pollock.
Seven-year-old Priya Patel said that “he rubbed paint all around his canvas and he splattered art everywhere.”
Across the table, PJ Moye, 6, was doing his best Pollock impression and described his movements. “I’m making a painting by splashing paint off of my hands. It flicks on the paper and drips,” he said. Contemplating the message of Pollock’s work, 6-year-old Zoe Chandler said, “He was trying to say he loves art.” In a whisper, she added, “I love art. I want to be an artist.”
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