United Action for Youth, UI art education students showcase artwork

BY REBECCA MORIN | MAY 03, 2013 5:00 AM

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Thursday afternoon was not a normal program day for the United Action for Youth’s youth center. Young, gleaming faces of junior-high and high-school students in lime-green T-shirts gathered in celebration to show off their 10-week-long art projects to the community.

“I really enjoyed being around artists my age — at school, you are in this huge group and don’t have a lot in common with anybody,” said 14-year-old Meldi Sharpe, a student participating in the art program at the United Action for Youth. “But in a place like this, we all like art, and we all just fit in a little better.”

United Action for Youth and the University of Iowa’s College of Education’s Advanced Methods for Art Education course collaborated for the third year to conduct a 10-week art workshop called School of the Arts. The workshop started on Feb. 28 and met every Thursday.

Organizers held a reception on Thursday because it was the last day of workshop, and students showcased their work.

“It’s always really interesting to see how every student has different artist skills and different styles,” said UI senior Delaney Gale, an instructor for the program.

The workshop required a $100 registration fee. However, the United Action for Youth received a grant and provided several scholarships from the Community Foundation of Johnson County. Several students receive partial scholarships of $50 to register for the program.

Five UI students majoring in art education instructed a workshop for 20 students enrolled with United Action for Youth. In the workshop, three groups created everything from comic books to street art sculptures.

“One project was that students made cement sculptures to what they believed the definition of community is,” said UI senior Niko Iben, an instructor for the workshop. “I tried to challenge the lines between traditional art and street art.”

Advanced Methods for Art Education is a course that involves methods for teaching and secondary theory and practice, said Buffy Quintero, the course instructor. The class allows art-education students to design curriculum to teach students. There were five students enrolled in the course this semester.

“The instructors were really able to mentor the students and help develop each student’s own artistic voice,” she said.

Although this workshop was smaller than the previous year, officials from the United Action for Youth said they preferred a smaller student to instructor ratio.

“Last year, there were about 40 students, but there was also eight to 10 instructors,” said Mickey Hampton, volunteer coordinator for United Action for Youth. “This year there was only five instructors, so it was smaller and more intimate so the young people could get attention and develop their skills more.”

Officials from the United Action for Youth hope to continue working with the UI in the coming years.

“We are an arts-focused youth center, so we jumped at the chance to get UI students involved,” Hampton said. “We hope to continue this in the coming years.”

Students from the United Action for Youth also expressed excitement in continuing with the program next year.

“This was definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done this year in a whole year of new things,” 13-year-old Maddie Van Horn said. “I would definitely do this again.”

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