Svetlana Ottney, a local mosaic artist and Lourdes University alumna, was throwing ideas around last year with Erin Szavuly, Lourdes University associate art professor, about the possibility of putting together a summer art camp for younger students.
The two worked together to create the Lourdes Masters program, a summer immersion for artists ages 8 to 16. Now in its first year, the three-week session features instruction in many art media, from painting on silk to sculpting with clay.
From now until July 27, students will be learning about famous artists while being instructed on techniques.
"The curriculum is based on fine arts and has nothing to do with crafts. If you asked me to do a craft, I wouldn't know where to start," Ms. Ottney said. She said that what she teaches the students is based on some of the elements she learned while she was a university student.
"I wanted to have the children experience the same thing I experienced at Lourdes," she said.
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Ms. Szavuly said the camp is fun for students, but it aims to be serious by teaching students art fundamentals.
"We're not building sculptures out of Popsicle sticks," she said. At the end of the session, each student will receive a binder with detailed information about every class, as well as objectives and the art supplies that were used.
"We want to show them how-to," Ms. Ottney said. "I want them to know so that they will know for the future."
Having the sessions at the university has helped expand the curriculum because the students have access to equipment and tools, Ms. Szavuly said.
"They're out doing clay work, and we can fire the clay work, because we're at a college. Printing presses -- we have those available. We love having kids on the campus."
To the instructors, it seemed the program has already attracted just the kind of students they were looking for -- those who are highly interested in art.
Last week, when the students worked on a project with clay, instructor Kristin Baldeschwiler said she was impressed with their capabilities.
"I'm used to working with an older population in the lifelong learning program," she said. "I was a little daunted by it, but they had such good ideas. For being so young, they already had such a firm sense of what they wanted."
Ms. Ottney said she thought that in addition to using the program to encourage students to think outside of the box, students might be able to create works without being fearful of the outcome.
"It's all freedom and future at that point," Ms. Baldeschwiler said.