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Camps art mirrors life
Liz Wood, a camp volunteer from the Junior League of Gainesville-Hall County, helps Katelyn Wood, 7, fold a paper bag that will be fashioned into a hat. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Like kids in a candy shop, the class eagerly crowded around the drawers and boxes of the art supply station. They sifted their fingers through the assortment of supplies, which included everything from seashells and sequins to Popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners.

"Don’t dismiss anything — beans could be books on a bookshelf," said Fox Gradin, the art camp director.

The students are part of the Quinlan Visual Art Center’s ongoing summer art camp.

This year’s theme, "My Life, My Story, My Art," was inspired by the timeless tradition of using art as individual expression and the biographical themes reflected in the current Quinlan exhibits.

Gradin said the art projects are "related to the things (the kids) feel and believe in, their likes and dislikes. We’re encouraging them to express their own opinions about things and bring it out through their artwork."

The camp of about 42 kids, who range in age from 5 to 14, is split into three classes by age group and taught by local artists and volunteers.

Gradin said a variety of materials and mediums are explored during the camp.

On Tuesday, the 9- to 14-year-old class focused on creating favorite foods out of clay, presenting them on clay plates. On Wednesday, the class worked on creating miniature bedrooms out of the plethora of art supplies.

Logan Smith, 11, said she enjoyed sculpting a plate full of steak, apple slices, and french fries.

She stocked her art table with neat piles of puffballs, ribbon, and fabrics for her project.

"I get to express myself through my art," she said.

Jonathan Peppers, 10, was already immersed in designing his bedroom. "I’m going to put a computer on a little table over here and tiles on the floor," he said. "I think this is going to be a lot of fun."

Gradin encouraged the children to use their imaginations to turn everyday art materials into elements of their miniature bedrooms. "This is really a creative endeavor for each individual person. No one’s going to make a bed the same way," she said.

Armed with supplies, the kids spread out in their own spaces and went to work.

"It’s important to show kids that art is not just pretty pictures," Gradin said. "Your art can stand for something and give you a voice."

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