Young local artists get their own showcase

Kids are the stars of a new show at the community pARTners gallery. The 8-12 year olds who are part of the Drop In On Art program at the Godfrey Dean Art Gallery have their work on display in “Welcome to Creatureland.”

The program runs three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and the class is taught by Shirley Hart, explains Don Stein, executive director of the Godfrey Dean Art Gallery. The program is a popular one, with many children repeating for as long as they are in the program’s age range.

“Over time we develop really serious skills like colour mixing, drawing and perspective, a little bit of art history. All of that stuff is woven in there, but it’s done in a very fun environment. It’s like the greatest after school art party.”

The kids’ show is a mix of collage-based portraits, similar in style to Picasso, and small sculptures. For Stein, he’s most impressed by the ‘unfettered creativity’ shown by the children in the program, and the wide range of art made out of the same project is something to celebrate.

“They’re all made by the same kids in the same room, but the latitude... There is a very elaborate one that is like the mirrored faces you see on a vase, the kid is 10 years old who did that. Some kids see complexity there, and some kids it’s a crazy pastiche of curly paper.”

The goal of the program is to give kids the freedom to create with as few limits as is reasonable, and they give kids a wide range of resources to help bring out their creativity.

“The results are what they can you do if you support them and turn them loose.”

The choice of whether or not to display was up to the kids, and some didn’t feel as though they didn’t want to put it on display.

“It was a real serious conversation for the children. It was nice to see them make that choice on their own.”

Stein believes that kids benefit from after school programs, whether an art program like this or sports, because it helps them think about what they see and how to achieve what they want to accomplish with their body.

“It develops our brains for three dimensional thinking... All those more complicated spatial relationships later make a great deal more sense.”

He also believes giving the kids freedom is an integral part of the program.

“Draw anything, and we’ll show you how. It opens up a sense of possibility.”

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