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Explore folk art traditions with Children's Art Institute

Annual art experience for grades 1-12 returns for nine-day session


An art tradition returns to Wilsonville and West Linn next week when the school-district sponsored Children’s Art Institute opens July 21. WL-WV students entering grades 1 through 12, and their parents, are invited to attend the nine-day studio to learn and hone their art techniques.

This year’s theme — folk art — promises to engage artists of all ages.

by: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Peter Woltjer works on a collage during the 2013 session of Childrens Art Institute.“Because we’re doing folk art, we have a huge array of traditions that we can choose from and focus on,” CAI director Kelley Jones said. “We’re going to understand how artisans work and how they present themselves through their work. ... So much of folk art tradition is emotional, which is really different than a lot of current and contemporary art.”

As before, the institute will be split into four studios: primary, basic 1 and 2 and intermediate/high school. Artists will be placed according mainly to ability and not just age. Four teachers will join Jones to lead the young artists through their folk art discoveries: Cathy Halladin, Jaime Sutton, Vicki Woolhiser and Sally Nelson.

While the nine days of CAI are spread across two weeks, it is designed as a one-session institute, Jones said.

“However, we are really flexible with it,” she said. “We’ve had students in the past who don’t (attend both weeks). We’ve had students step in the second week and sort of catch up with everyone else. The preference is to have people there to really get the value out of the two weeks and the connected experience.”

by: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - MacKenzie Weber receives instruction from Amber Sprague on her collage during the 2013 Childrens Art Institute.Students will attend five sessions the first week, Monday through Friday; the second week runs Monday through Thursday. All sessions run from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and are held at Stafford Primary School, 19875 SW Stafford Road in West Linn. The experience ends with an evening art show, to be held July 31 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Stafford.

Each day will be slightly different, as students and teachers explore different folk traditions together before the young artists try out the new techniques they have learned. Students can expect to learn about varied folk traditions, including mask making, walking sticks and street art, among other topics.

“We give them the information, provide all the background and then say, ‘Now you get to create,’” Jones said. The focus is on process, not product, she added.

“Our work is very process-oriented. We approach our work with the idea that students need a certain environment, a certain type of platform and lots of experiences in the design elements and principals of art in order to create high quality projects successfully,” she said. “We’re not end-result-driven, but because the teachers lay the groundwork, these projects become high quality successful projects.”

The Institute has a long history in WL-WV, although this is just the third year it has been offered recently. Founded in the 1980s, it ran in the summers until 2002, when the program was allowed to lapse. Jones, a fifth-grade teacher at Bolton Primary School in West Linn, is one of a group of teachers committed to maintaining the revived program.

by: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - From left, Dillon Silva instructs Julia Winkle and Maura Schramm on their cut-paper collage mural at the Childrens Art Institute last summer. “This is our third year in the second iteration and we’re hoping to continue to build and build,” she said. “One of the things that’s very important to me and the other teachers is that we keep the integrity of the goal of the institute, and that is to work through the process and use design elements and principles and understand that problem-solving is very, very valuable.”

by: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Ben Grady makes a journal entry reflecting on what he learned that day.At press time, approximately 60 students were signed up for the institute.

“Registration is still open. We know that parents kind of come around to this,” Jones said. “If we add more students we would probably add another teacher.”

The institute is tuition-based, with students’ $250 registration fee covering all instruction and materials. Learn more or register at the school district’s website or at tinyurl.com/oucp4tx.

“The work is different every year,” Jones said. “My goal as director is to make sure that the work we’re doing isn’t just for the sake of the work. It’s the problem-solving and the deeper connections that happen.”


By Kate Hoots
Education reporter
503-636-1281, ext. 112
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