Art starts at the Kimball Art Center
The Park Record
In the sunlit classroom at the Kimball Art Center (KAC), tiny fingers work diligently to paste tissue paper onto elephant cutouts. Although Grace and Kalvin Lemaitre are only four-and-a-half years old, they are already collage experts, instructing their mother, Sarah Tueting, on how to layer the delicate paper.
Tueting says she enrolled her twins in art classes at an early age because it’s a way to harness their creative energy and develop motor skills. After each class, “My kids are proud of themselves,” says Tueting whose daughter Grace, already identifies as an artist. “Everyone loved art class as a kid. Put a crayon in a child’s hand and they’ll create,” she says.
Since its inception, the Kimball Art Center has worked to expand its education opportunities for children of all ages. According to Jocelyn Scudder, Education Department Manager at the KAC introducing children to the arts is important, “because creative thinking is critical thinking.”
Whether using clay, paint or pencils, making art is problem solving. Starting with the Tots program for ages 3 through 5, students learn how to cut, paste, hold a paintbrush and mix colors. Parents are encouraged to join their little ones by spending an hour relaxing and creating together.
The classes for ages 6 to 10 focus on learning new techniques and mediums they wouldn’t experience in school. Many parents enroll their children in Kimball’s classes due to the lack of art education in Utah public schools.
Currently, Utah doesn’t require elementary schools to hire full-time art teachers. At most local schools art is an elective course that’s taught once or twice a week by a part-time or volunteer teacher.
The KAC art classes for elementary school students include glass mosaics, wheel throwing pottery, comic book creations and indigenous arts.
When students reach high school, the KAC continues to develop their skills and inspire future careers. The Young Artists’ Academy provides teens a way to further push their artistic talents, while meeting local artists and creating a portfolio for college applications.
“We want to show teens that there are lots of opportunities to have a career in the arts,” says Scudder.
The academy is fully supported by the art center, which means talented students do not have to pay tuition.
Professional photographer Blake Peterson, 23, says she has been involved with KAC art programs since before she can remember. After participating in a documentary film class when she was 12, she realized, “I’m an artist. This is my calling.”
Thanks to the Young Artists’ Academy, by the ninth grade Peterson had a solid resume and a portfolio that rivaled university students. Peterson credits her education at the KAC for helping her earn a full-ride Sterling Scholarship upon graduating high school.
Back in the Kimball classroom, Grace and Kalvin finish their class by giving their teacher a hug with running start. “When we make art, we are our truest self,” says their mother. Beyond making paper animals covered in glitter and googly eyes, “my kids and I are making memories.”
To get a sense of whether your children may have some hidden artistic talent, bring them to the Kids Corner at this weekend’s Kimball Arts Festival. Located on the porch of the old KAC at the corner of Main Street and Heber Avenue, children can participate in free face-painting and ceramic demonstrations. For a $3 donation, they can also decorate their own trucker hats, mold ceramic beads, and even dress up like Andy Warhol, Freida Kahlo, and Salvador Dali in the Famous Artist Photo Booth. All donations from the Kids Corner be used to support the KAC’s educational programs.
Author Edward Massey will present a reading and book signing of his new historic novel “Fugitive Sheriff” at the Kamas Valley Branch on Friday.