A Great Outlook on Outreach: 2011 – 2012 Children’s Outreach Wrap-Up

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“The arts are the best insurance policy a city can take on itself.” –Woody Dumas, former Mayor of Baton Rouge

Communities need the accessibility of the arts and humanities programs to be able to thrive and become an enjoyable place to live. Being a “first-timer” at the art school this year, I was witness to an amazing year in our outreach programs, surpassing many previous years in participation and excitement. There truly is never a dull moment at the Peninsula School of Art. Whether it is in the height of the summer season and Plein Air Festival is all a buzz, or when our outreach programs are connecting more than 300 children and families with art education. From We LOVE Art to SOUP! and beyond, we had our hands full this winter with creative projects designed for children and their families to enjoy.

Jumping right into the SOUP! project was the first thing I did when I joined the staff and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. From the moment I stepped into the classroom, I knew this was the career I’d always wanted. Seeing a child’s face light up when they find out that they can create an art piece or work with a medium that they’ve never had experience with before is something indescribable. Sometimes I could barely finish the bowl demonstration before the students were already lined up waiting for their first pieces of clay. The imaginations of the students went wild once we told them that they could design their bowl any way they wanted and the bowls were going to be sold to numerous people in the community. Ordinary bowls turned into unique shapes of teacups, animals, and flowers. The process of transforming the malleable gray clay into a functional and colorful piece of art was a sight to see. To put it simply, it was magic.

Some would say that pottery would come naturally to me because “it’s in my blood” (my parents own a local pottery studio/gallery), but there were many things I learned throughout the winter thanks to the volunteers, Northern Door schools and their staff, and members of Community Clay. I had to get my hands (really) dirty when rolling slabs, mixing glazes, and firing kilns, and there was always someone in the studio showing me the ropes. Our goal for 2012 was to make 500 bowls for the actual event. As the night before the event rolled around, there were 600 bowls on display, shimmering in their glory and waiting for the swarms of people to arrive. As the clock struck 10:30 on Saturday morning, the line was starting to form outside of the school as eager parents, grandparents, and children waited in anticipation to find their beloved bowl. The sunny weather that day reflected the overall sentiment of everyone participating in the event. From the volunteers serving endless gallons of soup to the people coming to support the Peninsula School of Art, we were able to sell all 600 bowls and have an outstanding event.

“Thank you for sharing your time, understanding and love of art!”   – 5th Grade Teacher at St. John Bosco, Sturgeon Bay

As SOUP! came to a close, We LOVE Art: By the Numbers began to rev up its engines. The students from various Door County schools learned how mathematics and art are closely intertwined through projects like 3D works inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, symmetrically designed Scherenschnitte paper cuts, and Cubism-inspired still life drawings. During the We LOVE Art field trips, we concentrated on specific concepts that highlighted the interdependence of math and art: positive and negative space; geometric shapes; and symmetry. From kindergarten to middle school, the students created spectacular works of art that hung in the Guenzel Gallery throughout the winter. To see the spark of interest ignite in a child’s eyes as their origami paper house took shape for the “artist community” or when they unfolded their paper cutting to reveal their favorite Door County scene were some of the most rewarding aspects of my new job as Youth and Community Programs Coordinator.

The school season isn’t complete without Family Art Days and, boy, did we have fun on those Saturdays! The third Saturday of every month we spread out the endless amount of art supplies and welcomed families to collaborate and share their ideas, talents, and creativity. The projects reflected the themes of the exhibits in the Guenzel Gallery, which included sculpture, printmaking, flipbooks, and painting. One of my favorite projects made at Family Art Day was the ceramic family shield.  Families had to think of animals, symbols, and specific colors that best represented their family members. Some families chose to be represented by a bear or an eagle, and one boy was represented by a slice of pizza. Trust me, there was a lot of fun to be had! With their design, they learned how to use air-dry sculpture clay to form their shields. Everyone had such a great time working together to make something unique.

“Some people see things as they are and say ‘why’, I look at things that never were and say ‘why not’.” -  Robert F. Kennedy

None of these outreach programs would be possible without the power and talents of our fearless and completely dedicated volunteers. Even though some of the jobs can be messy, we are so grateful at the Peninsula School of Art to have such a great group of volunteers who will do any job, no matter the mess. During SOUP!, we had over 70 volunteers who served soup with a smile, displayed bowls, and scrubbed pots and pans. Throughout the We LOVE Art field trips, we had retired art teachers and community members come and teach students the fun and inventive projects of the day. They were essential to the success of our outreach programs.

“I feel very fortunate in my life and I feel like it is very important to give back,” said Marnie Wienke, as we sat down for coffee. Throughout the year, Marnie has been truly dedicated to the children’s outreach programs at the Peninsula School of Art. With a bachelors in Studio Arts from University of Arizona, for Marnie, art is life and being able to share that passion with other people is such a joy. She began volunteering with her mom at an early age and found that what is most important is to always give back; no matter how large or small. With her greatest passions being art and working with children, Marnie has found happiness in volunteering at the Peninsula School of Art. As an artist, she finds joy in seeing children walk up to easels and create art that they may not have a chance to do at home or in school. One of her favorite volunteering moments was working with the hundreds of students during our SOUP! event. Not only did she help them create the ceramic bowls and serve many bowls of soup at the event, but she also helped the children understand the importance of giving back to their community. When Marnie isn’t volunteering her time in the arts, she is exhibiting her sculptures at Ephraim Clayworks and her impressive succulents at DC Studios in Egg Harbor, taking yoga classes, and working as a florist at Flora. By surrounding her life with art, she is constantly exploring new avenues through art classes, sharing her artistic talents with the community, and encouraging children to explore the boundless world of art. “Peninsula School of Art is an amazing place and I want to be apart of it,” expressed Marnie. We are all very appreciative to have such an awe-inspiring person to volunteer her time with our outreach programs and extremely lucky to have her and so many who choose to be apart of the excitement here at Peninsula School of Art.

Thank you for such a great outreach season and your continuing support for our children’s programs. We hope to see all of you during our events and classes during the upcoming summer months!

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