As the red and golden glows of autumn transform into the pastel blues, purples, and ever greens of winter, with just a few brown leaves hanging on the oaks waiting for spring, area artists continue to capture the seasonal colors on paper, canvasses and in photographic images for display.
This area is full of art and art events, even more so than most people are aware of. Art is here in all mediums and for all ages. And art is such an important part of our lives, whether you are an artist, a photographer, or just enjoy looking at the fine displays.
Artist Edwin Brown, of Troy, did a series of drawing of Troy scenes last spring through the summer. He had a beautiful display at the Presbyterian Church in Troy of all of his drawings.
During the summer, the Troy Fair has displays of art, including quilts and other home arts and 4-H items. The Troy Fair photography challenges photographers of all levels to take just that perfect shot within certain themes.
Last fall saw the start of an art gallery in downtown Troy, with the relocation of the State Farm office. The State Farm waiting area includes display boards built by Paul Pasko which are used to display local art and photography.
The PA Apple Cheese Festival in October has photos and art on display at the Manley Bohlayer House on the Farm. They have a special point system for judging. This point system, the brainchild of Denny Shattuck, a Canton photographer, started in 2003 and uses corner ribbons to display the level of each work based on the judging.
“If we started doing that, he (Shattuck) said it would help the entrants know where they stood in the judge’s eyes and help to improve their work,” said Marcie Shinn, vice president of Rekindle the Spirit. She added, “There’s so many talented people in this area.” Shinn noted that Rekindle the Spirit has children’s workshops in the arts during the summer.
In regard to children and art, according to Kimberly Sheridan, Ed.D., coauthor of Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education, children definitely benefit from art in their lives. She has the following advice to give parents and other caregivers: Always have arts and crafts supplies available for your children – paper, pencil, crayons and washable markers. Celebrate your child’s
artwork by hanging their drawings on the wall or refrigerator, or save it in a folder. That lets children feel that their work is important and special. Sheridan advises adults to read books to their children about artists and the arts. She recommends visits to museums, concerts, or the theater and notice the art, even in the open spaces around us. Enjoy the arts at home by sharing your artistic skills and interests with your children. If possible, remind your child’s school authorities about the importance of art in her/his education. And most important, if your child shows great interest, enroll her/him in an art class.
This writer found one of the best children’s art programs at Mansfield University. Mansfield University art education students run the Saturday morning art program under the direction of Andrew Wales. Wales, an art teacher in the Athens School District, has taken some of Sir Ken Robinson’s research on creativity to apply to the methods his students use in the art program. Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources, makes a case for creativity as the crucial 21st century skill we’ll need to solve today’s pressing problems. Wales and his students found that Robinson’s research showed that part of creativity is divergent thinking.
“What art does,” said Wales. “is open the door to nurture that creativity.”
The children’s Saturday morning art program at MU ties art in with writing, history, science, math and reading – actually every subject. It is a well-rounded art program.
Wales continued, “To me, art connects to everything. You can’t really teach art without teaching science and math and history and everything.”
Wales tells his graduate students, “Don’t just put up a famous painting and talk about it; ask them questions that make them think.”
The MU students had their own observations about the children in the program.
“I underestimated their capabilities coming in,” said Kate Warner from Sayre. “They have so much more creativity than I thought.”
“We are so amazed at what the kids can do,” said Emily Crandell from Mifflinburg. “They’ve never been told what not to do, so they’re so much more open. They don’t worry about being ‘wrong’ or not being perfect.”
“They get to experiment with different mediums and styles of art,” said Tasha Johnson from Nashville. “They don’t need any inspiration at all. I think they inspire us.”
Wales mentioned a study done by Robinson where he found that children start out at a “genius” level and as they grow Wales said, “We squash it out of them.”
How an artist’s work is displayed involves as much creativity as doing the art. This writer knows that the mat and frame used around a photograph can either enhance or detract from a photo.
Sara Hamburger, a recent MU graduate in art had a very creative exhibit of her art last May. Her display was outdoors in an area that included some woods and open grass. Her art, which included sculpture and paintings, fit into the surroundings so perfectly.
“The setting of the exhibit is outside among the very elements I am trying to protect. It was important to me to be able to present this exhibit outside in a non-traditional way, as I felt it necessary to fight against pre-existing notions that humans create in an attempt to control people as individuals,” said Hamburger. “This act represents a bigger picture of who I am and what I stand for.” According to Hamburger, her paintings were set up in such a way that they were “scattered throughout as a means to represent the details of the bigger picture, the parts of my thoughts on – any negative impact on the earth. They are like little reminder post-it notes stuck to a project, or notes giving detail to an extensive research paper, driving me towards a specific goal.”
So when it comes to children, art, and creativity, let’s not “squash it out of them” but rather keep art alive!