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Artlink's Art Club
“Out-of-school” program aims to foster young artists
By Rebecca Stockert
Fort Wayne Reader
Countless studies have shown the benefits of including a strong arts curriculum as part of public education. An education in the arts has been shown to improve standardized test scores, critical thinking, problem solving skills, self-esteem, and much more.
Yet our area’s education system doesn’t seem to have gotten the message. The state of funding for arts education in our community is lamentable, especially in underserved areas. Despite dwindling budgets, our area has many passionate schools, teachers, and programs that work hard to provide creative education for our youth. That said, some art teachers are faced with budgets of less than $2 per student for art supplies for an entire semester.
It was with an eye towards closing that gap that Artlink developed their out-of-school Art Club, providing opportunities for artistically-inclined teens to develop relationships with local artists, learn new techniques, and explore careers in the arts.
The program provides sketchbooks, drawing pencils, and specialized art supplies at no cost. Participation in the program is free and has been running since 2013. Art Club aims to provide arts opportunities for teens who may not have adequate access to the arts, create a safe place for teens to develop their own unique voice, learn relevant art-making techniques, and connect to the community and their peers.
According to the Nation Guild for Community Arts Education’s 2011 publication “Engaging Adolescents: Building Youth Participation in the Arts,” teens are actively trying to find a sense of place. They “explore options for the right fit with their environment-physical spaces, family units, social groups, and wider communities. They learn how to form healthy relationships, use support systems, and find ways to be useful to others.” In Art Club, teens have the opportunity to connect with peers, helping them find a sense of place in their social environment. They connect with the wider community by developing relationships with teaching artists.
Program curriculums include: Autobiographical Comics, Character Design, Storyboarding, Inking & Coloring, Creative Writing & Illustration, Illustration & Watercolor, Graphic Design Basics, Mobil Photography, Screen Printing, and Basic Ceramics.
Artlink is constantly developing new lessons that are relevant to the lives of teens. Teaching artists include: Julie Wall Toles, Matt Gross, Nate Utesch, Francisco Reyes, Adam Garland, Brandon Furniss, Rebecca Stockert, Paul Demaree, and Jerrod Tobias. They’re always looking for teaching and visiting artists who are currently working in their medium, have a strong connection to the community, and love working with teens.
The program runs after school in the spring and fall at Shawnee, Kekionga, and New Haven Middle Schools. It also runs on Saturdays at the Allen County Public Library Main Branch and — new this spring — at the Renaissance Pointe YMCA.
Participation is limited to teens who are already involved with participating partner locations. However, Artlink encourages anyone who knows a young artist with limited access to the arts to please contact Artlink Education & Outreach Director for possible inclusion. This program is provided at no cost. It relies on support from individual donations, foundations, and revenue from other Artlink programs.
You can check out the online ‘zine created for fall 2015 on Artlink’s website: artlinkfw.com
For more information, or to support Art Club, please contact Artlink at Rebecca@artlink.com