Students lingered as long as possible to finish their final art project of the summer Friday at the last art class in the Gainesville Housing Authority’s Innovation Station on Davis Street in Gainesville, hosted by the Quinlan Visual Arts Center.
This weekly art class is free and is designed for 13-14 year olds within the Authority’s public housing community. Over the course of the class, the goal is to teach students to create a variety of engaging projects like murals, outdoor sculptures, mosaics and paintings.
The class is privately funded by the Murrayville Veterinary Clinic and the Marta Chapman Memorial Foundation. It was initiated in response to the success of the RISE summer program, also hosted by the Authority, which began in 2010.
Both of these are community efforts geared toward providing better opportunities and education for low-income children. The Authority’s goal is to help children be as self-sufficient as possible and to inspire hard work but also imagination.
One of the main reasons art was highlighted was the lack of emphasis on art education. A study by The College Board proved that students who studied art scored 100 points higher on the SAT, on average.
Jim Chapman of the Authority said the dream was for the project to become an “inner-city inspiration oasis.”
“We thought we could dress this place up and get the community more involved,” Chapman said. He said the Authority is still seeking more private funding as well as volunteers from the community.
Amanda McClure, executive director of the Quinlan, was a large part of the initial effort and suggested Mary Hull as the art teacher. Hull has been working with the Quinlan and running Pendragon Fine Art Supply since 2011.
For Hull, the students make the class, she said.
“I really like the kids,” Hull said. “They’re a good bunch. They’re interested and they’re engaged, and that’s what’s the best.”
Hull described the new experience this summer as fulfilling. She said that is simply because she enjoys teaching.
“I just love it,” she said. “I guess that’s a reward.”
For the last eight weeks, students have been faithfully attending, especially Elijah Mosley, Hull said.
Elijah and his brother participated in the class this summer. They both became a part of the class after their mother received a flyer in the mail advertising the class.
He said he has enjoyed discovering a new skill.
“(My favorite part was) learning different types of artwork,” Elijah said. “My favorite project would have to be the record books. We made records out of old books.”
The pilot program has been a success and will return in the fall. Anyone interested in volunteering for the class may contact Chapman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations to the art program may be made to the Quinlan Visual Arts Center, 514 Green St., Gainesville, 770-536-2575, email@example.com.