Westport Arts Center hosts weekend mixed media lab for kids

Samantha, 6, and Arielle, 5, simultaneously pencil out design for their respective printmaking projects.

It’s 9:34 on a Saturday morning. In a well-lit room at Westport Art Center (WAC)’s waterside facility, smiling elementary school children gather around tables hard at work on printmaking crafts. This setting is constant to this year-round monthly program. However, the project of printmaking is unique to the weekend of November 3rd; last month was collages and the next project will be sculptures.

Sarah Kelly, WAC’s Education Fellow, explains how this class, known as ArtLab, is different from weekday art classes because it is less frequent and intended for kids that are only available on weekends.

According to Kelly, the purpose of the program is so “students can come in for a one-time workshop and still get the opportunity to be creative and make artwork.”

Angela Simpson, an art teacher at Staples, admires the mission of WAC’s program in how it fosters fundamental life skills that these kids will use later in life.

“Making art seems to nurture a universal need to introspect and decompress from external stresses that we experience most of the day,” Simpson said.

Therefore, ArtLab attests to this universal need due to the creative variety of the program. The skills learned differ each month, but every class follows a similar routine. From 9:00 to 10:15 a.m., five to eight years-olds gather under the guidance of Kelly and Visual Arts Coordinator Jill Sarver. The first segment of the class is spent discussing the specific art medium. Then, the students get to work with their pencil, paintbrush or brayer.

From 10:30 a.m. until noon, nine to 12-year olds are present to do the same thing.

The respective Saturday lessons may be short, but the two instructors value every second. Kelly made the classroom a comfortable environment for students to display their abilities and was quick to answer questions or critique work.

The instructors’ efforts have proven to rub off onto the kids, as proven with their enthusiasm.

“They’re excited about it,” Kelly said. “They want to know when the next one is. We have really good kids.”

According to the teachers, parents have also given positive reviews of the program as a whole.

Kelly likes the idea of ArtLab due to the entirely different adventure that students embark on with each class. “Every time you come, you experience a new process and learn something new,” she said.

These art processes learned may also be a great help to these same kids a few years from now when they’re at Staples.