Dozens of children moved between three separate art stations on July 2, all of which were set up in the parking lot at the Gardere Initiative building on Ned Avenue.
The ongoing art lessons, brought to the Gardere Initiavie Summer Program via LSU Museum of Art’s Neighborhood Arts Project, represent just one day of activity the area’s kindergarten through fifth-graders have been working on this summer.
Reginald Brown, a consultant for the Gardere Initiative, said the students have spent the summer reinforcing reading and math skills, and learning about art, health, nutrition and gardening at a nearby community garden.
The arts project brought its mobile studio to the Ned Avenue lot every Wednesday for the past several weeks, said Lucy Perera, coordinator of School and Community Programs for the LSU Museum of Art, allowing her to build skills progression and art history and appreciation elements into the summer curriculum.
“It’s more than we are able to teach in a one-shot workshop,” Perera said.
The young artists-in-training rotated between a painting tent, a collage station and a cooler filled with ice water as they worked in patches of shade.
“We’re doing mixed media flag collage in the style of Jasper Johns, and firework art,” Perera said.
At the end of the summer, the students’ works will be on display at the museum, Perera said.
This summer marks Jeronda Scott’s second to work for NAP. Scott, a student at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, helped several other summer workers break down the tent art stations and pack up art supplies for the trip back to the museum.
The camp is one of three sites they visit weekly with the mobile unit, she said.
“I basically just supervise (the campers) and make sure they know what they’re doing,” she said. “But honestly, they show me how to do a lot of things. I’ve learned a lot from them.”
That includes visual art techniques, and how to see the world with fresh eyes, as a child might. “And I’ve learned to be more patient. Kids really respond to that,” she said.
The environmental science and policy major doesn’t do much visual art, she said, but writes poetry as a creative outlet.
Larry Sykes, another NAP student worker, is in his first year at Baton Rouge Community College, and plans to transfer to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.
Though his field is science-related, Sykes said he’s been drawing since he was young, which will serve him well in his career.
But to Sykes, the most important reason to expose children to art at young ages is the power of expression it provides.
“It made me a more well-rounded person. Art is where the heart is,” he said.
NAP is a community outreach program that brings art-making, dramatic play, reading and singing to children and families living in at-risk communities, according to the LSU museum’s website, and was funded in part by a grant from the East Baton Rouge Parish Office of the Mayor-President.
For more information on education programs or to schedule a tour of the museum, please contact Perera at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (225) 389-7207.
To learn more about the LSU Museum of Art, visit lsumoa.com, or call (225) 389-7200.