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Kentucky art museum becomes educational playground for day campers

Students like Ezra Anglin study replicas of art from the museum's permanent collection to include in the Create and Curate Showcase.
Cheri Lawson
/
WEKU
Students like Ezra Anglin study replicas of art from the museum's permanent collection to include in the Create and Curate Showcase.

A group of 10 to 14-year-old enthusiastic students gathers in the first-floor gallery at the University of Kentucky Art Museum where the curator of education, Dan Solberg welcomes them to day 3 of the Create and Curate camp.

UK Art Museum's Curator of Education, Dan Solberg welcomes day campers to day 3 of this unique camp.
Cheri Lawson
/
WEKU
UK Art Museum's Curator of Education, Dan Solberg welcomes day campers to day 3 of this unique camp.

Solberg said since the museum is changing out exhibitions over the summer it’s a unique opportunity to use the galleries available as an educational playground for this first-time summer camp. He said the camp is a weeklong chance for middle school kids to learn the curators' process in an art museum.

“So they’ll go through the brainstorming process. They kind of lay things out, do some kind of idea generation for what kind of show do they want to put together and ultimately, we’re working towards being able to put these reproductions of artworks on the wall in a way that they are going to arrange,” explained Solberg.

Seventeen replicas of paintings, photographs, prints, and sculptures from the Museum's permanent collection are lined up near the gallery wall. Each camper selects one of these to feature in their exhibit.

UK Art Museum camp counselor Annie Vikary assists Bentley Yinger and Lilly Ware with a short video they created together for camp.
Cheri Lawson
UK Art Museum camp counselor Annie Vikary assists Bentley Yinger and Lilly Ware with a short video they created together for camp.

Campers like Ezra Anglin carefully study the reproductions. The thirteen-year-old said coming to this camp is much better than hanging out on an iPhone or computer.

“You can look at a lot of art on your phone with a photo but like whenever you go to a museum you can actually see the physical strokes of it more. Right? It’s just an entertaining experience. It’s something that I can’t do by watching a lecture on my phone. You can’t beat the real thing,” said Anglin.

E. Hiler works on a sketch during camp. The thirteen-year-old enjoyed the behind-the-scenes tour.
Cheri Lawson
E. Hiler works on a sketch during camp. The thirteen-year-old enjoyed the behind-the-scenes tour.

 Wearing blonde hair with a hint of purple on the ends, E. Hiler said the camp is a great place to meet people with common interests. Plus, says the thirteen-year-old there are daily art activities like drawing or making tiny sculptures or collages in preparation for the Create and Curate Showcase.

“We’ve also been into storage and we’ve looked at a bunch of different paintings from different artists, you know some have passed, some are still alive, some local, some far. It’s really been great and on the first day we got to get kind of a private tour of the Art Museum that’s upstairs,” said Hiler.

Evelyn Elliott points to the brainstorming wall where campers posted their ideas for the Create and Curate Showcase.
Cheri Lawson
Evelyn Elliott points to the brainstorming wall where campers posted their ideas for the Create and Curate Showcase.

The student artists filled one wall in the museum’s first-floor gallery with lavender, blue, pink, neon orange, and green post-it notes. Fourteen-year-old Evelyn Elliott said this is the brainstorming wall.  She said, earlier in the week the campers were asked to come up with ideas for the exhibition they wanted to create.  

“So, this one says old-timey photos and I’m like into black and white vintage stuff. So, I think that’d be a good idea for maybe a painting,”  said Elliott.

Camper Savannah Dailey takes time to create a sketch at camp. She was surprised by everything required to put together an art exhibit.
Cheri Lawson
Camper Savannah Dailey takes time to create a sketch at camp. She was surprised by everything required to put together an art exhibit.

 Savannah Dailey wears a red t-shirt with a self-designed nametag hanging around her neck. She holds up a white shoebox that shows a miniature version of the art exhibit she’s working on designing. The 14-year-old said the final exhibit will show all of the processes the campers have used including the brainstorming wall and a clear case called the cabinet of curiosities.
Dailey said the cabinet showcases tiny pieces of art made by the campers using materials like clay or pipe cleaners.  She’s amazed by what it takes to curate an art exhibit.

 “It honestly really surprised me about how much you have to focus on with putting pictures and sculptures up to reveal to the public, especially with what time and money goes into creating one little event,” said Dailey.

Dominic Luba and Hunter Parsons paired up and made a puppet they named Metal Man. The boys used Metal Man as the star of a promotional video they created for the Create and Curate Showcase.
Cheri Lawson
Dominic Luba and Hunter Parsons paired up and made a puppet they named Metal Man. The boys used Metal Man as the star of a promotional video they created for the Create and Curate Showcase.

  After a short break, the campers get into pairs and work on a social media message about their upcoming exhibit. Dominic Luba and Hunter Parsons team up to create a short social media video starring a character they created and named Metal Man.

Parsons explains what Metal Man is and how he’s used.

“It’s a puppet me and my friend made for a video. It’s like the Metal Man is giving a tour of the museum,”  explained Parsons as he demonstrated the tour.

“Come down on Friday and see me and my amazing friends plus more art in the Cabinet of Curiosities,” said Parsons, acting as Metal Man.

Luba said the pair used pipe cleaners and other art supplies to create the puppet.

“ I made the stick in the morning and he made the figure and when they talked about the project  of just posting on social media about the museum we just came together and built Metal Man,” explained Luba.

The afternoon is full of art activities. Each activity leads up to the final product which is a camper-created art exhibition. Education curator Dan Solberg said the team worked hard to make the space appealing.

“It’s not a classroom. You’re actually in the gallery. You’re in the space where this work happens,” said Solberg.

Students work on ideas of what they want the Create and Curate Showcase to feature.
Cheri Lawson
Students work on ideas of what they want the Create and Curate Showcase to feature.

Most campers agreed this experience is much better than screen time at home.  

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Cheri is a broadcast producer, anchor, reporter, announcer and talk show host with over 25 years of experience. For three years, she was the local host of Morning Edition on WMUB-FM at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Cheri produced and hosted local talk shows and news stories for the station for nine years. Prior to that, she produced and co-hosted a local talk show on WVXU, Cincinnati for nearly 15 years. Cheri has won numerous awards from the Public Radio News Directors Association, the Ohio and Kentucky Associated Press, and both the Cincinnati and Ohio chapters of the Society for Professional Journalists.
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