In a second-floor classroom at the Art School, keiki kick up shreds of colored tissue paper as they rush to and from the supply table. As part of Fall Art Camp, students in grades one to six are creating landscape collages in which block-print animals will “live.” Spencer, a Mānoa Elementary School student and first-time Art Camper, is making a habitat for his cheetah, which he’ll later print into the scene from a foam cut-out. His gluey fingers press blue strips to construction paper—that’s the sky—with crinkled orange bands representing the savanna and balled green clumps standing in for trees.
At the other end of the table Mia is making a prairie backdrop for her foam horse print, while girls around her assemble jungles for lizards and icy winter scenes for polar bears. Art Camp is designed to get kids to explore, and judging by the creativity bursting from the 16 student projects in this classroom, it seems to be working.
“Art Camp is part of our Young Artists program, which is normally held on Saturdays,” says assistant director of the Art School Pearlyn Salvador. “Our teaching artists use the museum collections and their own experiences to engage and inspire the students to create work that expresses their ideas and appreciates the cultural differences among their peers and the people they meet.”
Veteran Art Camp instructor Erin VanGordon’s favorite aspect of these classes is getting to “dive deeper into projects, because you have so much time with the kids. You can do three-, four-, or five-step projects, which include a lot of mixed media. With a typical two-hour class on the weekends we don’t get that.” Students in the Summer Art Camp program have every weekday for five and a half weeks to construct their masterpieces. The school also offers a Spring Art Camp, and camps are held at the Art School and at Spalding House.
In the classroom across the hall, where kids are focusing on printmaking techniques, the scene is calmer. It’s serious stuff. Hunching over his work and scribbling furiously, Kainoa, age eight, is sketching a Halloween-themed backdrop framed with jagged edges and dangling skulls for his print of a bat wearing an airplane costume. School may be out this week, but clearly these young minds aren’t.