Ciara, 7, made two snails, a basket, and a fox while attending a clay class at the fall Saturday Art Workshops offered to young artists by the University of Iowa College of Education’s Art Education faculty and students.
The workshops, which have been offered for more than three decades, are a win-win community outreach project. The young artists, ages 5- to 12, get to create and aspiring art teachers get to practice their future profession. The Art Education Program also offers workshops to middle and high school students in the spring.
Ciara, who has attended the workshop twice now, says the teachers are one of the best parts.
“They’re so nice! They like to do art and we like to do art, so it’s really cool,” she says.
Janelle Krause, a senior art education major from Waterloo, Iowa, shows Ciara how to build an origami box for her clay fox. She says it’s been fun exploring art with the elementary-age kids.
“This age group is entertaining because you never know what they’re going to say,” she says. “It feels good to help them make something they’re really proud of.”
This year’s workshop ran from late September to Nov. 16. Kids could choose among several classes including sculpture, fiber arts, drawing, painting, and more.
On the last day, parents were invited to an art show to see what their artists had created.
Hannah, 8, was putting the finishing touches on “Fun City,” a city she built in the design/assemblage class using clay, pipe cleaners, recycled materials, and objects she found outside. Fun City has a roller coaster and a trampoline.
“The people in Fun City live on candy. They only have a candy store,” she says.
Nearby, Alex, 7, points out the highlights of his city, Egypt. Among other things, Alex’s Egypt features a turtle with five feet and a snail climbing backwards down a tall castle wall.
His dad, Manuel Montes de Oca, stands nearby with a camera around his neck. He says Alex has come home excited after every workshop meeting.
“He’s so happy and is telling us, ‘We did this today, we did that today.’ He’s started to develop a lot of ideas,” he says.
In another part of the workshop space, Everett, 7, shows his dad the comics he made in the comics/graphic novels class. He says his favorite takes place in Alaska.
“It’s about a robot that explodes and falls to Greenland,” he says.
Elise Charles, a lecturer in the College of Education and an instructor in the Saturday Art Workshops, says the workshops allow art education students to practice innovative teaching methods in response to their students' individual interests.
“Many of the children are very interested in art and the goal is to teach skills and methods related to art making and different studio practices specific to the child or topic of the workshop,” says Charles, who received a Bachelor of Arts in 2010 and a Master of Arts in Art Education in 2013, both from the UI.
For more information, visit the Saturday Morning Art Workshops website.