Pottery and art camps get creative makeover

Published 5:07 pm Tuesday, July 21, 2020

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For the Washington Daily News


A popular youth program sponsored by Arts of the Pamlico may now run online indefinitely — at least until COVID-19 pandemic limitations no longer require Art Camp participants to learn and grow at home.

Art Camp traditionally features mixed media and pottery opportunities, but was moved online so AOP could continue to provide safe, contact-free art opportunities, according to Debra Torrence, executive director of Arts of the Pamlico. AOP has sponsored the art camp for 15 years and traditionally hosts its participants at the Turnage Theatre.

Torrence said an art supply kit has been assembled for each child who wants to participate in the camp’s online version.

“They will get paints, brushes … all kinds of materials … and include reusable items that they can return at the end of camp,” she said.”

The kits cost $75 for children of AOP members and $85 for “non-family” participants. Parents can pick up kits at the Turnage Theatre, but should contact Programs and Outreach Coordinator Erin Staebell at e.staebellaop@gmail.com to find out when a staff member will be available at the theater.

The program began in June, is expected to run through August, and registration is still open.

“We can continue to make up the kits. We’ve got a supply, so we can manage however many parents and families would like this,” Torrence said.

So far, less than 10 children have participated in the program.

The sessions are taught via video link by East Carolina University junior Carleigh Flynn who, according to Staebell, did everything from compiling and delivering the art supply kits, recording the instruction videos, and setting up the video link once the pandemic hit and AOP staff decided to find a way to keep the program going.

“It is Carleigh who is doing art with them, talking about artists and opening them up to a whole new world,” Staebell said of the program and its effects.

Also in the works, because of Flynn’s efforts, is the creation of a virtual library featuring this summer’s art lessons.

“If these at-home conditions continue and we need to do something online this fall, we won’t have to create it all over again,” Staebell said, adding that she finds herself marveling at the creativity that has gone into the online program, as well as the originality of people overall, regarding how everyone is dealing with challenges created by the pandemic.

Flynn was modest about her part in the online creative arts program, preferring to talk about the children she works with now, and those from last year’s program, when she was a Turnage newcomer.

“It bummed me out that I wouldn’t actually get to go to the theater and hang out with the kids this year,” she said, adding that the current virtual program was inspired by her work last summer. “I tried to model it like the one I did last year, combining art history with projects so the kids got to learn about famous artists they might never have been exposed to.”

Flynn said one of her favorite lessons was a day of Jackson Pollock.

“I explained who he was, how he worked, and showed them photos of his huge, wild creations. Then I took everyone outside, gave them paint and let them smear it, throw it, sling it on two of the biggest canvases I could find,” Flynn said.

This year, Flynn made it family-friendly.

“I chose projects that are simple to explain. It’s a little more craft-oriented … things kids could grasp in one ‘watch’ and that parents could help with,” she said.

Flynn said she’s already “brainstorming” just in case this year’s pandemic conditions extend into the next vacation season.

“I need to be more creative, come up with more projects … and shop for better deals on supplies that will help to make sure I’m giving them enough, supplies they could use for other projects. I want to put myself in their shoes and figure out what they need,” Flynn said.

For more information about the programs offered by Arts of the Pamlico, visit artsofthepamlico.org.