In addition to classes for children ages 8 to 12 and teens, a new youth art initiative is being inaugurated at The Sharon Arts Center School, 457 Route 123, that is aimed at developing art skills in the younger artist, ages 2 ½ through 7.
Known for its strong reputation in the visual arts, primarily for emerging adult artists, the Center is unveiling a new approach to incorporating the very young into the possibilities of creativity and inspiration through clay, paint, drawing, fiber arts and sculpture.
New Executive Director Keri Wiederspahn cites a Putnam Grant as the impetus for this initiative. “We’re happy to be able to launch a program for building the creative vision of the younger artist,”she says. “In these classes, first-time artists just learning to express themselves with their creativity will be given the guidance needed to understand not only how to use certain techniques, tools, and mediums, but how to have fun while learning to observe and work from both life and imagination to create beautiful works of art. Immersion in a visual language opens so many doors for the young mind.”
Wiederspahn, who previously founded and ran a unique, successful flagship school of visual arts for children in New Jersey for 15 years before coming to New Hampshire several years ago, adds that each specific class in the Young Artist Foundation is carefully structured to combine a variety of visual experience in different mediums—drawing, painting, sculpture, and ceramics–with a spectrum of unique projects stressing each young artist’s personal creativity.
This fall, she says, there will also be opportunities for parents to collaborate with their children in a “Mommy/Daddy and Me” program as well as a “Just Me” program aimed at the independent young artist. A Young Artists Conservatory, aimed at artists 4 through 6, is another new initiative, a conceptual class that Wiederspahn hopes will engage the young artist into an appreciation of the arts.
“This is a rigorous art foundation combining visual art, body movement, and music,” she says, “and it’s structured with a centrally-themed focus to bring the young artist into the fullness of possibility and the beauty of artistic expression.”
School Director Alexandra Wall is enthusiastic about the new program and the fact that Sharon Arts will now be a resource for parents and children aged 2 1/2 through teens. “The addition of these classes,” she says, “is exciting both for Sharon Arts and for local families. The range of the classes can accomodate various schedules and will focus on introducing and strengthening each child’s individual skills–and even their parental relationships–through collaborative exercises and a nurturing yet creative classroom setting. The kids will be given a solid foundation while they navigate their creative options, abilities, artistic independence, and visual language.”
Many after school classes, Wall says, along with several children’s workshops, are slotted for the Sharon Arts fall lineup, all of which will be held in the the Center’s Sharon facility, although some demonstration classes will be held in their downtown Peterborough Gallery on Grove St.
Already in place for teens is an ArtAccess program, an intensive art immersion aimed at high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors from throughout the Monadnock region who are interested in increased exposure to and experience in the visual arts. In this program, students meet weekly at the Sharon Arts Center school throughout the school year to explore technical and theoretical aspects of art and career paths and to investigate creative potential as they strengthen their portfolios.
“Beyond our studios,” Wall says, “students meet with artists and craftspeople, curators, gallerists, and other art professionals and take field trips to museums, galleries, and studios throughout our region.”
The ArtAccess portfolio development program is open to sophomores and higher level high school students throughout the Monadnock region (including home-schoolers) and will begin accepting applications in September for review.
Sharon Arts is offering several free sampler classes for both children and teens on Thursday, Sept. 15 and Friday, Sept. 16 in their Downtown Peterborough Gallery, 30 Grove St., as well as at their annual Open House, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 17 in Sharon. During the Open House a large collaborative fundraising painting project based on Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” is being held with all proceeds going towards the Center’s scholarship program.