Calumet Art Center wants cash for creativity

CALUMET – The Calumet Art Center is seeking donations to help support its Summer Youth Program for K-12 students. The center has set up a fundraising website at indiegogo.com that includes a video on the summer program and the center’s other offerings, and will also accept donations directly.

So far, the community has responded well, raising about one-quarter of the $10,000 goal in just more than a week, said Instructor and Summer Youth Chair Anna Ehl, adding that some of the donations, albeit small ones, have even come from students themselves.

“It’s good to see, even if it just shows support,” she said.

The center is also signing up students for the eight-week program, which consists of four two-week units in arts including ceramics, weaving, puppet making, printmaking, sculpture, painting and copper arts. Students attend classes twice a week, and can explore four different arts or focus on one or two, said instructor and art center Executive Director Ed Gray.

The fee for the eight-week session is $110, “but part of the reason we’re fundraising is to offer scholarships for kids that can’t afford to attend,” Ehl said.

Last year about 55 students attended the entire program, but this year Gray said he’s hoping for more. About 20 students have signed up already.

The Arts Center will also accommodate students able to attend just a portion of the program.

Board treasurer Bonny Lynn noted that the summer program has grown every year since the center opened six years ago, and that it also offers year-round opportunities for both youth and adults.

“The greatest thing is that it’s keeping traditional arts alive, like clay and weaving,” she said.

The center features and uses several refurbished barn looms – traditionally used in the barn to weave rugs – including one that Gray said is over 145 years old.

“Last year an artist came and wondered how a professional artist could spend so much time teaching this stuff,” Gray said. “But if we don’t the arts are lost.”

Ehl said students’ enthusiasm makes teaching art worthwhile.

“One of the things I love seeing is a kid who just got something lean over to help the kid next to him,” she said.

This summer, Ehl will likely be teaching ceramics, sculpture and puppet making, as well as digital media.

Gray is well known for his ceramic and copper working classes.

All instructors will be professional artists, including many coming in from out of town, and Ehl said the Summer Art Program is still seeking more.

The whole thing is a lot of work, but Gray, who’s been teaching since the first program, said he sees art education as something that’s important for everyone.

“I consider the creative process an ability and way of thinking that can help in whatever you do in life,” he said. “It works in any field.”

To learn more about Calumet Art Center programs, link to the indiegogo.com fundraising site, or view the video about Art Center programs, go to calumetartcenter.com.

Ehl noted that businesses who contribute will get a shout out on the Art Center’s site.