Reminder Assistant Editor
SPRINGFIELD Have you ever thought about Cheerios and Chex as materials for artwork? How about platform shoes? Or leaves?
Approximately 100 children enrolled in the Boys & Girls Club Arts Enrichment Program thought outside the box this summer, using the above materials and more to create dozens of pieces of art. The children displayed their work at the program's first annual art show last Thursday at Indian Orchard Elementary School.
Amy Green, the art teacher at Indian Orchard Elementary, taught the children how to create several different kinds of artwork over seven weeks of classes.
Green submitted a proposal for the program to Gary McCarthy, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club, who was very enthusiastic about supporting the idea.
"We do a lot of arts programs at our Carew Street location, but we wanted to do something in the Orchard as well," McCarthy said. "This was the ideal way to do it."
The program would not have been realized without a $4,000 grant awarded to the Boys & Girls Club by the Black Men's Club of Greater Springfield, McCarthy added.
Children of all ages were instructed by Green in print making, water color painting, mask decorating, mosaics, Chinese scrolls and more.
Brittney Spaulding, 10, really enjoyed using the pinch and coil method to make a small clay vessel. "It was fun," she said. "Art is my favorite subject."
An emphasis on art education and education through art was presented throughout the program's duration.
"There has been so much improvement over the course of the last seven weeks," Green said. "Their skills have improved and they can work longer. They've learned sometimes less is more. They pay closer attention to detail. Their skills will grow further as time goes on."
Besides teaching the children art, Green also taught them the power of positive thinking.
"Never say you can't do something," she stated. "Doing that allows you to set yourself up for disaster. Thinking positively makes us all more apt to explore as well."
McCarthy agreed that the art helped the children in the program explore not only their artistic skills but the world around them. "With the different forms of art they created, these kids learned about different cultural aspects and learned how to appreciate different cultures as well."
Because the program was so successful in its first year, McCarthy is hoping to see it held again next summer. His short term goal, however, is to institute a similar art enrichment program in the Boys & Girls Club after school programs.
"Right now, arts programs are funded on a grant to grant basis," McCarthy said. "We want to try to present these kind of programs year round."