Stories of Impact

Livingston Center for Art & Culture

Introducing youth to art.

If Picasso had painted rocket ships, they might have looked a bit like 8-year-old Reece Wright’s.

Reece, along with half a dozen other Livingston kids, was busy on a recent summer day painting a rocket ship he’d drawn with watercolor paints he learned to make in the Livingston Center for Art and Culture art camp. For the window of the rocket ship, Reece used markers, a spray bottle and a coffee filter to give the impression of tie-dye or, an onlooker could imagine, a spacecraft flying very fast.

“I made a rocket ship because I just felt like it,” Reece said.

The Community Foundation gave $4,000 to help the Livingston Center for Art and Culture hold the camps this summer. In addition to helping pay for staff and supplies for the camp, Foundation grant monies provide five scholarships to children from low-income families. The six weeks of camp accommodate different age groups and serve about 100 children a summer.  This is the 12th year of summer art camps for children. The Center holds camps in its refurbished basement classroom.

Molding or shaping Livingston’s next crop of artists isn’t exactly the goal of instructor Julia Reichert. It’s more of a chance for children to explore their creative impulses.

“We have this really great space and they are so nice about letting me make a mess,” said Reichert, a glitter enthusiast. “I love that the kids can come down here and experiment and explore. There’s no judgement on what they are creating.”

Center Director Kathy Bekedam said Foundation grant money is vital to maintaining the integrity of the camps and reaching children from all parts of the community.

“The structure is determined by where (the students) want to take their art,” Bekedam said. “It’s important for us to maintain that so they can explore for themselves. And these camps reach through socio-economic lines.”

Last year, students made a giant tapestry they wove themselves to learn about materials and color. Every child in the camps touched the piece and one boy even wove in a snakeskin. Bekedam said the Center is searching for the right buyer for the piece.

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