Maybe we're biased, but we believe a summer filled with art making is a summer well spent. While our youth and teen curriculum encourages students to enjoy the creative process from start to finish, our lessons run deeper than that. Instructor-led group discussions, technical exercises, and innovative projects introduce the principles of art and design and how to use them successfully, tools and techniques specific to a variety of media, as well as a creative toolkit that serves students far beyond the art classroom. Below are just a few of the transferable skills walk away with from our workshops.
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PenArt provides a range of summer workshops designed for the youngest of artists to unleash their creativity, develop their skills, and pursue new ideas. From drawing to printmaking to ceramics, there's an experience for everyone! But aside from the materials used and techniques learned, what does a typical workshop day look like at PenArt?
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Time and again I am amazed to find how accessible and giving the artists in the Door County community are. Peninsula School of Art is located in the heart of Door County, its location a metaphor for the regard these artists have for the organization.
This devotion became evident recently while I prepared for the upcoming SOUP! project, which benefits both our outreach programming and the needs of a partnering nonprofit. Using a clay project as a vehicle for the community to create saleable objects, this year we created tiles instead of bowls. It seemed a simple transition. I soon discovered that although we were utilizing the same medium, tiles and bowls are two very different "animals." I came to rely heavily on the help of the members of the Door County Potters' Guild.
What could be different? For one, the inherent warping of a flat tile if the clay is not handled correctly. Other issues included a specific method of glazing and the preparation of the tile before both the bisque and glaze firings. Another particularly trying problem for me was to get air bubbles out of the clay through the wedging technique. I couldn't do it, but Ellison Bay Pottery's John Dietrich volunteered to help me out -- wedging over 100 pounds.
Reneé Schwaller, of Off the Wheel Pottery, and Jeanne Aurelius, of Clay Bay Pottery, instructed me in the decorative techniques of sgraffito and knife-and-slip, respectively. Schwaller and Aurelius, as well as Tony Staroska from Juddville Clay Studio, shared with me their techniques on how to keep a tile flat as it dries. I also sought the advice of "Thor" Thoreson from Gills Rock Stoneware regarding successful handling of the tiles.
It has always taken a village to make the SOUP! project a success. But, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the sharing of the Guild in this year's project. It truly could not have been accomplished without them.
When thanking Thor for his help, his reply was typical of those of the other Guild members, graciously calling to mind the late mentor of the group, Abe Cohn, whose example promotes a pay it forward attitude of giving.
"We are more than happy to help, just as Abe Cohn gave to us," he said.
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When a tradition is in place for a dozen years, any change might be met with trepidation. Such is the case with the humble, handmade ceramic bowls associated with our SOUP! benefit. For the past 12 years, PenArt has hosted SOUP! on the first Saturday in February to raise funds for both our outreach program and the needs of a partnering nonprofit. Up until now, each year, the Door County community, including school groups, has created 500 ceramic bowls to be sold at SOUP!. The event includes a complimentary and bountiful soup-and-bread buffet for those who purchase a ceramic piece.
This year, we took the risk of replacing the popular bowls with 6" square ceramic tiles. School groups only have 45 minutes to complete their project and the tiles seemed a great way to make the best use of the kids' time. Freed from forming a bowl, the design of the tile, as well as learning new surface techniques, takes center stage.
To gauge the results of our new project, informal polls were taken with each classroom we've visited so far. The result? The kids were engaged in the process and created some very fun designs. You could have heard a pin drop.
The art teachers were only too happy to prepare the students with information on decorating/carving techniques and had the kids sketch their designs on 6"x6" squares of paper in a previous art class. This year, we are partnering with the Northern Door Children's Center in Sister Bay. The theme for the tile making is Nature's Toys and Joys. The idea is for tile makers to think of the ways that nature is our playground.
Tomorrow night's Hip to Be Square tile making event for adults will help to solidify if our new project has the support of the community for future years. Check out our tile slide show. What do you think?
All adults 21-years-old and older are invited to attend Hip to Be Square on Wednesday, November 15, from 6-9pm. The event includes materials for tile making, as well as food and libations. A $5 goodwill donation is encouraged.