Tuesday, August 18, 2009

ArtsBuzz: Armory's summer camp show spotlights kids' creativity

A multimedia collage by Meitar Magin, 7, of Wellington.
(Photo by Katie Deits)

By Katie Deits

When does a person become an artist?

People are often at their most creative when they are young and uninhibited, and the ups and downs of life haven't eroded their confidence. But kids’ work is often relegated to the kitchen and attached with magnets to the refrigerator door.

Last Friday night, though, the Armory Art Center staged a large and outstanding exhibit that gave kids from kindergarten to high school the opportunity to show off their artwork to friends, family and art lovers. The budding artists all had attended the Armory’s summer camp of classes in art history, drawing, painting, mixed media, sculpture and ceramics.

Ann Fay Rushforth, director of programs and chief curator at the Armory Art Center, worked with instructors all summer to organize the exhibition, a big one that included work by most of the 650 students.

The Space Project, left, and The Colorful Project gave students
the chance to work in large formats.
(Photo by Katie Deits)

“I asked the instructors to save the best work from each student at the end of each week. Some students were only at camp for a week, and others attended all summer,” Rushforth said. “We tried to have all the students represented in the show, but we were also choosing art for quality.

“We ended up with very nice pieces of art,” she said. “Every year, I think that the work gets more outstanding. This year, we hired more art teachers, and we were so pleased with the results.”

A sculpture by Andrew Kovalainen, 12, of Hypoluxo.
(Photo by Katie Deits)

Rushforth said that the Armory’s goal is for the young people to come away with art as a concept.

“They study the history of art, as well as the nexus of art, science and the environment. We cover technology, different nations and different periods of time," she said. "We also have them create ‘green’ art and make students aware that they can live a carbon-neutral life.”

For instance, in a sculpture class taught by Hans Evers, a Dreyfoos School of the Arts teacher, students were encouraged to use “found” objects in their work. One such work, by 12-year-old Andrew Kovalainen of Hypoluxo, was a figure by fashioned from cardboard and wire that was very gestural, displaying a confident and casual attitude.

Selections from the Modern Art History Pizza Project.
(Photo by Katie Deits)

One of the most interesting exercises was called the Modern Art History Pizza Project.

Innovative instructor Kim Kovac of Lake Worth taught the students about styles such as Impressionism, Cubism and Expressionism. From historic pictures, the students chose a style they liked and then did original colored drawings the size of a pizza. Then, they recreated the drawing in clay, glazed the pizza-like shapes, cut them into slices and fired them in a kiln. The final results were displayed in pizza boxes.

From left, drawings by Katy Short-Hamiwka
and Gabrielle Wilde.
(Photo by Katie Deits)

In Ryan Toth's Teen Drawing I class, students did sketches of common objects, still lifes and figures, and the quality of the drawings was impressive, in particular a picture of a clarinet by Katy Short-Hamiwka and one of a corkscrew by Gabrielle Wilde.

Children are often limited in the size of their artwork, but the camp gave kids the opportunity to work in large formats. The Space Project was a group effort of students Joshua Barron, Benjamin Barron, Ellie Bender, Lucas Cabot, Dylan Cabot, Lindsay Ehrlich, Olivia Klein, Lindsay Kuperman, Jack Shepherd, Isaiah Suriel and Miles Wang.

“Instructor Rebecca Mock put paper on the floor,” Rushforth said, “and the students painted it just as Jackson Pollock did. Then each student made his or her own spaceship that they colored, cut out and suspended out from the painting with wire.”

Standing in front of her self-portrait,
Devin Ruskin, 11, of Lake Worth

shows off a ceramic cupcake.
(Photo by Katie Deits)

From ceramic pizzas to jumbo paintings and drawings, the work demonstrates the talent of these children, as well as the ingenious ways the Armory instructors thought of to inspire them. The show will be on exhibit through Sept. 4 and would be interesting to art teachers, parents and art lovers alike.

SUMMER ART CAMP EXHIBIT. Through Sept. 4, Armory Art Center, 1700 Parker Ave., West Palm Beach. Gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit www.armoryart.org, or call (561) 832-1776.

Rivkah Kranz, 13, of Royal Palm Beach with her black-and-white painting of a figure in an architectural setting. (Photo by Katie Deits)

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