| AN ORIGINAL PRODUCTION – Children who participated in the Summer Arts Camp sponsored by the Weakley County Arts and Humanities Council last week had an opportunity to perform in front of friends and family members during a closing ceremony on Friday. Here, the students are performing their original production, “The Enormous Nose.” |
An outpouring of creativity from youngsters in Weakley County and beyond filled the auditorium of Dresden Elementary last week, as Summer Arts Camp came to a close for its youth participants.
On Friday, The Weakley County Arts and Humanity Council’s annual summer arts camp held a final exhibit of children’s artwork to accompany their original performances.
The event closed out five days of Summer Arts Camp, a chance for artistic children to stretch their creative horizons under the tutelage of regional arts professionals.
The exhibit – comprised of children’s sculpture, painting, drawing and mixed media – filled the auditorium for on-looking parents and teachers to admire. While adults looked at the artwork, however, children were busy with final preparations for original dance and theatre productions.
Sarah V. McCormick, Coordinator for Summer Arts Camp, says that after only having three days last year, getting five days to prepare for everything makes preparation for the exhibit easier. Children had a 90 minute block, five days a week to practice dance cues under the instruction of Tyler Smith, a former dance student of McCormick’s at UTM.
“For kids, an hour and a half is a long time to practice,” McCormick said. “[Having two more days] is a great amount of time to focus. [Tyler Smith] taught them technique. I hear the girls talking about technique…she wasn’t just teaching them about moving, but also giving them a vocabulary to work with.”
Parents paid $50 to enter their children into the program before the kids could then choose two classes based on their interests, held in blocks from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. For students interested in drama, an original theatre production titled, “The Enormous Nose” gave children a chance to show off their method acting chops.
Theatre director Melanie Hollis, also a theatre instructor at UTM, shared that she felt that the shorter time periods for teaching the students made for a more challenging and rewarding experience.
Hollis said giving children a creative outlet can be rewarding for them in the long-term.
“We didn’t have a lot of time which is a great thing. We play a lot of games and we explore a lot of different things,” Hollis said.
“This is all about self-esteem, accomplishment and expanding your mind. I think it’s extremely important.”
Hollis went on to say that while she loves teaching college students, they can often bring on a different set of challenges not present when working with children.
“The college kids don’t want to do anything that somebody thinks is foolish,” Hollis said.
“We have our boundaries up by that point.”
One parent said that the program is a great way for giving children an appreciation of art, and that the five day format has worked well for the price.
She added that the quality of the teaching is a lot of what makes the Summer Arts Camp so special.
Sherry Moore, drawing instructor, avoided using pencils and instead offered pastels and charcoals so students could focus more on drawing larger, having fun and not worrying so much about detail.
On top of routine drawing exercises with shapes and lines, students were able to draw self-portraits and animals to try and learn how to embrace their creative side.
“[Children] are more creative and more spontaneous and not afraid to use their imagination,” Moore said.
“As children get older, they begin to get embarrassed about using their imagination. They can just be creative and explore what’s out there.”
The Summer Arts Camp, set up and funded by private donors and grants each year, will be held again next year.
The program features courses on painting, creative writing, music, dance, drawing, mixed media, sculpture and theatre all taught by UT Martin Professors, local professionals and college graduates with K-12 education degrees in the arts.
The Weakley County Arts and Humanities Council credits private donors, the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Weakley County Board of Commissioners with making the Summer Arts Camp possible.
Editor’s note: Check out Thursday’s Entertainment section for more photos of the talented students participating in the Summer Arts Camp.