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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.

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Justine Seligson
Justine Seligson, Photo Coordinator
Being a self-described political junkie and a teen travel writer, Justine Seligson '15 is not only, without a doubt,  a well rounded student and basically a mother's dream, but also a very unique addition to the staff. Seligson is extremely modest about her accomplishments, but it is very clear that her extensive journalistic experience outside of Inklings has largely influenced her presence on the paper. "I have a column on teen travel on my parent's website, which is called Farewell Travels," Seligson said. "It's a very different type of writing [than Inklings] but it's definitely helped me to grow as a journalist overall." Seligson goes on to describe the plethora of exquisite articles she has written for her column over the years. Seligson further explained how her experiences in traveling have shaped her journalistic presence in a large way. She explains why she is nonchalant about the amazing experiences she has had traveling the globe, explaining that it has always been a way of life for her and her family. "My family travels all the time," she said. "It's just part of our business." However, Seligson says that "...[she] would a much different writer if [she] hadn't traveled so much." She casually mentions how much of an impact a pre-college Kenyan writing program had on her, as what an honor it was to be featured in the National Geographic Student Edition. "It made me realize that even though journalism may supposedly be a dying business, there may be some hope for me to pursue my dream career," she said. With her in-depth knowledge of travel and politics, Seligson is sure to be an interesting voice on the paper this year. She hopes to improve her writing and photography even more this year, as well as to help other staff members to increase the quality of their own photographs.

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