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Children have chance to get crafty at Boys & Girls Clubs
Marsha Richter brought samples of mandalas like this one to show the children at the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Students who take part in the after-school program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County will have a chance to play with mosaics and learn about the ancient art of mandalas.

Art teacher Marsha Richter will present a program at 4 p.m. Friday that teaches the students about mosaics and mandalas.

Mandala, which means circle in Sanskrit, can also be a term for any plan, chart or pattern that represents a greater idea. At the Boys & Girls Clubs, children create their patterns out of sea glass, beads, shells and "all kind of little sparkly things," said Sheronda Kessler, arts coordinator for the clubs.

The experience of making art using mosaics — rather than drawing — is invaluable to kids who might think they can’t draw, Kessler said.

"I like the hands-on experience because they don’t get to see a lot of art," she said. "Some think art is kind of competitive because they think they can’t draw. Any time we get something physical or a piece of art, or pictures, just to get them motivated. ... And all the kids want to be doctors and they don’t think art is a viable career."

The visit from local artist and teacher Richter was provided by a grant through the Artists in Schools program. "We’re trying to get more artists to come in and work with the kids because it’s so much more to give them the experience of working with the artist," Kessler added.

Richter said her interest in mandalas began a few years ago when she decided to create a project involving mosaics made by a range of people. The project, titled "Seeing the Greatness in Us All," eventually included mosaics from 36 people, ranging in age from 8 to 60, each making a mosaic.

The project at the Boys & Girls Clubs, she said, is very interactive and leads kids through the process of drawing a circle, finding its center and coming up with a pattern.

"What I always hope is that I have, one, got them excited about what’s next. That’s almost the most important thing," Richter said. "And they’ve learned some things — they’ve learned they can do certain things."