During the almost ten years I have worked in museum education, I have seen my share of summer art camps. Every year summer arrives with a little trepidation about the preparation, registration, and arrival of young artists excited about getting their hands—and inevitably their clothes—messy. At the MMFA, summer camps have been a well-oiled machine for years, and I was so glad for that coming in as a newcomer in January.
This summer, we had two art camps: a youth camp and our first ever art camp for teens ages 13-18. Although the teen group was small, they were dedicated and engaged throughout the week learning about alternative photography techniques and creating both individual artworks and group installation pieces. Following our successful teen camp were three youth camps that each week focused on a different theme: portraits, still-life, and landscapes. Having such a quality camp roster is due no doubt to the high caliber instructors that teach each session, all current and active in the art education field in Montgomery. The teachers were Amanda Ingram, Sarah Gill, Sara Woodard (featured above), Donna Pickens, and Sarah Struby, and we were lucky to have them share their expertise and creative spirit with us.
The campers ranged in age from 6-13 and had a wide variety of interests and levels of exposure to art at the beginning of the camp. Campers experienced painting, printmaking, ceramics, mixed media and sculpture to just to name a few media as well as spending time in the galleries looking and discussing the art in the Museum’s collection. Within each medium campers learned about tone and shading, perspective, color, form and other basic elements of art. Each week ended with a student art show where the campers hosted a reception and exhibition of their work for their families. Families were delighted to see a variety of projects ranging from Wayne Thiebaud inspired ceramic cupcakes to still-life works painted from real live cacti and sculptures made from paper clay exemplifying their children’s grown-up aspirations. The artworks that were created during all of our summer camps not only exemplified our campers’ creativity and imagination but also the level of learning and enrichment that happened throughout the week.
So as the last week of camp begins, the slight apprehension I felt before my first MMFA camp has been replaced with both a renewed enthusiasm for museum education and pride for art education at the MMFA. As elementary schools lose art programs throughout the region it is imperative that organizations like the MMFA continue to offer these invaluable classes, camps, tours, and programs for visitors of all ages. Art camp is only one of the many opportunities for children in the area to experience the visual arts both in the gallery and in the studio setting. Learning to look and discuss art is as important as getting to create art, and for those who participated in this year’s summer art camp they definitely got their fill of both.
Assistant Curator of Education, Youth, Family, and Studio Programs