UI students teach art to local children


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A half-dozen paper flowers blossomed out of a ragged book, and a purple three-eyed monster grinned from a slice of a brick wall.

These unique art displays served as examples for local high schoolers Thursday evening when they gathered with University of Iowa art-education students to discuss creativity in art.

Roughly 30 high-schoolers met in the basement of North Hall for the inaugural session of the Iowa City School for the Visual Arts — the first ever collaboration between the UI and Iowa City’s United Action for Youth.

“I love the idea of calling it a school partly because it gives it room to grow,” said Mickey Hampton, a volunteer and art coordinator for the youth center.

Rachel Williams, a UI education associate professor, moved from group to group, fielding questions from the UI mentors and flashing a warm smile at students as they trickled in.

“Hi there. How are you?” she asked with her lyrical North Carolina accent.

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Williams said she fantasized about the possibility of the class toward the end of the summer last year and began planning with Hampton at the beginning of the fall semester.

The focus of the 12-week session is for students to select an idea such as borders, storytelling, democracy, or identity, and explore the topic through various artistic media.

“I want kids to understand what artists do,” Williams said.

And the students will receive that understanding through experimenting with screen printing, graffiti, stop-motion animation, and embroidery in addressing their topics.

“It’s an opportunity to explore issues in a very honest way,” Hampton said.

Scattered around the room on display are various examples of products the students can explore.

“I’m excited to see what they make from our lessons,” said Katie Teesdale, a UI student involved in the program. “It’s such a big learning experiment for me.”

Teesdale is the creator behind the blossoming book on display, an idea she found online and immediately liked.

“If I wanted to make one, wouldn’t someone else?” she said.

As greetings and introductions ended, students broke off into smaller sessions and began to work on different art projects.

“I like that there aren’t any limits to it,” said 14-year-old Haley Voss as she delicately held her drying project, an artist “trading card.”

The UI art-education department has a variety of opportunities for its students to go into local schools and work with students from kindergarten through high school. The UI also holds Saturday morning workshops for elementary students, Williams said.

And opportunities for youth to engage in art outside of school is important, Hampton said.

“Sometimes, the school setting isn’t the ideal setting,” she said. “It’s alternative settings where kids really flourish.”

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