Hannah Pence, 6, of Adrian, finishes the papier-mache mask of Isabel Cueto, 7, of Blissfield, in an effort to emulate a sculpture by Venezuelan artist Marisol. The program has drawn 48 students from the area.
ADRIAN - Maddie Oberton lay flat on a table. The 6-year-old's face was covered in papier-mache, a sawed-off water bottle sticking out from her mouth.
"Can you still breathe?" her teacher, Annie Morton, asks.
The answer is a muffled affirmative.
Such antics are not unusual at Adrian College this week, where the Youth Art Program is taking place. Forty-eight students from around the area in first through eighth grade are participating.
Yesterday morning, kids in grades one through four were emulating a 1962 sculpture by Venezuelan artist Marisol. The work consists of an open-mouthed mask stuffed with a Coke bottle, which the campers saw in a slide show.
"We basically brought a museum to them by showing slides of artists," said Jackie Whiteley, an art teacher in Tecumseh Public Schools and one of the camp's instructors.
Students paired up, placed paper towels over their faces, open-ended water bottles in their mouths, and surrendered themselves to the papier-mache mercy of their peers.
"It was kind of scary - I could barely breathe," said Autumn Mahaffey, 8. Despite that, she said the sensation felt really good. "It was cool underneath that. It just made your face cool."
Miss Oberton was not so enthusiastic. "It covered up my eyes, and I don't really like it when I can't see."
The week's theme was pop art. "It was a fun period where they did quirky art that we felt the kids would enjoy," said Ms. Whiteley.
On Monday, students studied Claes Oldenburg, sculpting their favorite foods from clay. Later, they'll collage with Andy Warhol and do print-making like Roy Lichtenstein.
"Not everyone thinks our kindergartners can be taught about Picasso or Andy Warhol, but they can learn about it and develop a sense of importance," Ms. Whiteley said.
Pi Benio, a professor of art at Adrian College, said a camp like this is important because it helps children expand their horizons.
"I think there needs to be a range of activities - not all kids are going to be great at athletics, and that's largely what's offered," she said. "You want your kids to be well rounded. You want them to have successes in a variety of areas."
Ms. Morton, who teaches art in Adrian Public Schools, has been with the camp since 1998, when she was a freshman at Adrian College. She said the kids generally seem to enjoy themselves.
"We really shake them up and send them home," she laughed.
Despite her papier-mache ordeal, Miss Oberton also said she liked the camp.
"I like doing art because you get to get messy," she said.
There was certainly no shortage of plaster-splattered clothing and white-flecked hair milling around campus yesterday. But there was no shortage of smiles either.
The art program also takes place in the fall and winter and is co-sponsored by the YMCA of Lenawee. Cost is $65 per student, which covers materials. Scholarships are available from Wacker Chemical Corp. for students who qualify for their school's free-lunch program.
Contact Carin Yavorcik
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