Students who apply and are accepted into the program "enrich their portfolios and resumes" and develop "ideas and philosophies of visual arts through a variety of creative projects and community events," according to its mission statement.
"A big part of what we try to do is to get the students experiences they would not normally have in a school setting," said Jenny Diersen, director of the Kimball Art Center's Young Artists' Academy (YAA). "Schools that offer art are fantastic in the middle and high-school levels here in Park City. The YAA takes that one step further and give the kids an idea of what its like to exhibit and sell their art and to get into the production of artwork and group projects."
In addition to the annual Wasatch Back Student Art show, YAA students show their works throughout the community.
"Last year, we had an exhibit at Artique in Kamas and coming up this Friday, we will have an artist opening at the Gallery MAR for a project that we have been working on since November," Diersen said.
The Gallery MAR, 436 Main St., will host the Kimball Art Center's Young Artists' Academy for a free artist opening during the Park City Gallery Association's monthly gallery stroll from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.
"The exhibit is decks of cards," Diersen said. "Each student from last year's class was given an assignment to design the faces of four cards."
In addition to the cards, the original designs of the artworks will be on sale for $35 and the proceeds will go directly back to benefit the YAA.
Diersen thanked Gallery MAR owner Maren Mullin for working with the YAA on the exhibit.
"Not only were the kids able to see what it was like to produce and exhibit something as a group in a real art gallery, they also learned about fundraising efforts and working in the community," Diesen said.
"I hope a lot of people come out to Gallery MAR on Friday to support the Young Artists' Academy and Gallery MAR and check out all the fabulous art on Main Street," Diersen said.
Mullin said she is thrilled to work with Diersen on the exhibit.
"I'm good friends with Jenny and we have talked for several years about doing a collaboration with the Young Artists' Academy at the gallery," Mullin said during an interview. "We talked about mentorship and internship programs and things like that, but we felt it would be best to do a show of their work.
"Since there really isn't any space at the Kimball Art Center right now because too many things are going on, we've become like an overflow for the Kimball, which works out great for us," she said. "I love the opportunity to work with young and emerging artists. And I like working with nonprofits like the Kimball, so this is a great chance to give back to the community as well."
Mullin is thankful for such programs as the Young Artists' Academy because of the values and confidence it instills in these emerging artists.
"The arts are always the first thing that is dropped from school when there isn't enough funding to go around," Mullin said. "The Kimball Art Center does a great job partnering with the schools in Park City to encourage art in schools, but when the students get to a certain age, they need more of a focused mentorship and instruction program. This is where the Kimball can provide that and offer a place where young artists can develop their skills and learn about what its like to be artists.
"They are learning the practice, but also learning practical skills as well," Mullin said. "The Kimball has been such a wonderful resource for Gallery MAR and a great asset to the community."
Programs like the YAA also helps Gallery MAR find new artists to represent.
"I wouldn't have professional artists showing in the gallery if someone hadn't shown interest in their works when they were younger," Mullin said. "So a program like YAA is all part of the same process for me."
Being a YAA member is hard work, Diersen said, because the program asks a lot from the students.
"[It] requires the students to commit to a year-long program and because of that, they do have to think about their school schedules, their extra-curricular activities, and their religious and social commitments in advance," Diersen said. "They meet every week. We are currently meeting Thursday evening for three hours. We get quite a bit done in this little space of time, but they also work outside of class on their assignments to meet their deadlines."
In addition, the students participate in other activities and fundraisers outside of class, so this takes extra commitment as well.
"It is quite impressive to see how the students are able to balance all of that and make the YAA program work for them," Diersen said.
When the students apply for the Young Artists' Academy, they are asked to answer two essay questions and submit an image of their artwork.
While Diersen looks over the applications, she is not part of the jury in the selection process.
"I know too many of the kids and want all of them to be accepted into the program," Diersen said. " So normally, the jury features one Kimball Art Center staff member who is not involved with the kids, one Kimball Art Center board member and one community member."
The jury grades each student and compiles the scores to come up with the selections.
"The number of kids in the program is slightly flexible," Diersen said. "We usually accept 15 students, but we had a tie for the 15th spot, so we will have 18 YAA students this year."
(See accompanying list titled "The Young Artists' Academy class of 2014-15")
On the last Friday of each month, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m., members of the Park City Art Gallery Association offer a free, unique showcase highlighting artists, special exhibits and art events. This month's stroll, which will be held Friday, May 30, gives residents and Park City visitors the opportunity to enjoy light refreshments while exploring Park City's exciting art scene. Visit any of the participating galleries to pick up a free gallery guide. For more information, visit www.parkcitygalleryassociation.com . For more information about the Kimball Art Center's Young Artists' Academy, visit www.kimballartcenter.org . For more information about the Gallery MAR, visit www.gallerymar.com .