Founders Blog - First Edition

Welcome to our first edition of the Founder’s Blog! I am excited to have this opportunity to share with all of you some of the reasons why we do what we do, and some of the highlights of our programming.

I am particularly excited this year about our upcoming summer camps. So I’d like to spend some time telling you about them. We know that it’s important to provide enriching, meaningful, and fun activities for the younger members of our community during those months when they are not otherwise involved in daily school activities.

We are excited to have the chance to provide art instruction, play, and social interaction for our kids during these hot Washington summers!

Our first camp this summer is for teens. I will be leading this first camp myself, along with the support of one of our interns. I have years of experience teaching at the college and high school levels, and have developed a special rapport with teenagers. I find them to be refreshingly honest, mostly underappreciated within our larger communities, and bursting with untapped creativity. Teenagers are “my people.”

Camp I is for ages 13 – 18 and it takes place June 18 – 22. Entitled “A Place at the Table” this camp will provide our teens with the opportunity to examine the metaphors associated with this phrase. We often talk about a place at the table as one’s place in a dialog of power. We talk about people who bring something to the table as those who have a lot to offer others. During this week, we will consider all the things that come to our minds when we talk about the table. Our featured artist mentor for this week will be Judy Chicago, the creator of The Dinner Party, a permanent art installation on view at The Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York. Chicago’s work was created to specifically address the ideas around feminism in the 1970’s. We are expanding upon her idea to consider all kinds of “isms” and how we can grow to be compassionate people, aware of our biases and working to reduce discrimination of all kinds in our world today. We want all people to have a place at the table because we recognize that we all have much to, indeed, bring to that metaphorical table. With the guidance of local chefs, we will learn the importance of nurturing our bodies with healthy and yummy foods, so that we have the strength to take our places at the table. Through visual art exercises and journaling, we will discover our individual talents – those things we bring to the table in our unique ways. And through the exploration of performance and installation art, along with technical skills lessons in a variety of materials, our teens will create a final project that will do nothing less than inspire all of us to acknowledge their places at this table, and to recognize even our own places at life’s table.

Camp II is for ages 9 – 12 and it takes place June 25 – 29. Camp II will be led by our children’s instructor, Bonnie Parry. Bonnie is well known and beloved by our kids because she is fun, compassionate, and loving. Bonnie holds a B.A. in Fine Art and is a working artist who has homeschooled her own (incredibly) creative children. Bonnie’s main interests are art that is created by recycled materials, textile arts, and providing an environment that creates self-confidence in her students. She is nurturing and allows for our students to think outside the box in their solutions to the problems they encounter as they create. Her favorite question might be, “What would happen if….?” And she constantly supports her students in their explorations in finding their own answers to such a simple yet profound question. During this week, our campers will explore a variety of materials, including knitting and recycled materials. There will be daily skills activities for those children who are interested in skills development, as well as more open-ended activities geared to more generalized visual problem solving. Our campers always learn about matters that will help them become great citizens of the world in ways that are age appropriate and exciting. All campers are continually exposed to relevant historical and contemporary artists and art movements in order to help them develop the deepest meaning in their work.

Camp III is for ages 5 through 8 and it takes place July 9 – 13. It will provide all of us at Art Works with a very special opportunity. This camp will be led this year by one of our country’s most highly regarded art educators, Roni Rohr. Roni was recognized as the National Art Education Association’s New Mexico Art Educator of the Year in 2011. She also received the Teacher Who Inspires award from Partners in Education in Santa Fe. She is the art educational consultant to many noted museums, and is the creator of Teaching Art & Kindness Across the Curriculum. I had the pleasure of working with Roni in the summer of 2010 at Kutztown University and have since been working hard to find a way to get her to Maryland for our students! Roni’s curriculum for this camp will span across a number of disciplines, providing our kids with a variety of opportunities for socially aware self-expression. Skills develop naturally at this age, and will be addressed within the numerous projects as they are created.

So, there you have it! A summer program full of art, learning, growth, and most importantly, joy.

I hope we will be able to have the opportunity to spend some time with your children this summer. Please remember that no one is ever turned away for financial reasons. Art Works offers numerous scholarships to those who could not otherwise find a way to join us. Our mission is to provide a more level playing field where all children have the opportunities to develop self-confidence, experience beauty, and experience the empowerment that only art can inspire.

We have seen the power of art as it works in the lives of so many of our children and adults. We hope you’ll take this opportunity to see, first hand, just how art works!

Barbara Johnson,
Founder and Executive Director
Art Works Now