Take one child or a group of children, add some art supplies and mix it with limitless imagination and what do you get?
One Sunday, each month, children create at the Yukon Arts Centre.
Jessica Vellenga’s role is visual-arts engagement, precisely what Kidz Kreate is about, engaging kids of all ages in exploring artists’ work, visually, asking questions and then becoming artists themselves.
The centre has hired a local artist, Helen O’Connor, to be there each time to teach with Vellenga’s assistance in what she calls “hands-on and minds-on” learning.
“We want them to have their own creativity and their own enjoyment out of the process. It’s very organic in that sense.” And, she says, it’s important that children learn to be comfortable in an art gallery and that “they learn that they can even become an artist, as well.”
O’Connor and Vellenga guide the children “from understanding it [art] to making it – seeing it there, on the wall, and understanding the concept and then making their own version of it.
“Kids, unlike adults at times, are more prone to investigate and try to understand it. They see things differently than we do. It’s very refreshing,” Vellenga says.
Kidz Kreate does not simplify the meaning of contemporary art for the children. Vellenga says they “talk about the greater meanings and social implications of the artwork. For instance,” she explains, “Voz-Voice is all about sustainability and the environment.”
And, of course, parents or caregivers are “more than welcome to make their own art, as well. It’s a family experience.
“We’ve even incorporated birthday parties where children come in for an activity [no cake or presents], as long as they call me beforehand,” she stresses, laughing, “and don’t just show up with 30 children!”
The group uses professional-quality artist supplies as well as found objects. “For the last one we did, in September,” Vellenga says, “we went out for walks and found objects we could make little houses out of … to build earth-friendly homes.
“I’m big on using recycled objects, as well, which people bring in [or Vellenga finds].
“I think it’s important that children learn to re-use things.”
And what about snacks?
“I’m glad you brought that up,” Vellenga says, laughing. “Juice and cookies,” she adds.
Kidz Kreate runs until April 11. The dates are on the website, www.yukonartscentre.com, under “For Youth”. Or you can call Jessica Vellenga at 393-7109 or e-mail her at [email protected] Vellenga says, “It’s open to all families; it’s free; it’s drop-in.”
In December, the Yukon Art Centre Gallery will feature artists from Mexico and Canada, in Voz-Voice, and the children will be making Mexican Christmas ornaments Sunday, Dec. 13.