Art can be messy, beautiful, fun and relaxing, but the best part is there are no rules.
That’s what keeps 10-year-old Oliver Lanam of Seymour interested.
“You can do and make whatever you want,” he said while outside painting a picture during the last day of the 8- to 10-year-old summer art camp Wednesday at Southern Indiana Center for the Arts in Seymour.
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Each week saw a different age group so children from ages 5 to 12 could attend.
Last week, Lanam and 20 other kids spent three days immersed in learning and creating art.
From drawing and painting to making crafts and even playing instruments, more than 60 youth in the community have experienced art camp this year.
For many, it’s a tradition.
“I’ve been coming to art camp for probably three or four years now,” Lanam said.
His favorite activities are drawing and painting.
“It doesn’t matter what you do,” he said. “You can’t really mess it up, and you get to be creative.”
Lanam likes to make art at home, too.
“It’s just something I’m good at, and I really enjoy it,” he said.
During the camps, students rotated through stations and learned different art techniques, such as weaving, tie-dying using markers and modeling with clay.
The camps are a part of the center’s educational outreach services and are a way to get youth more interested and involved in the arts.
The favorite activity for many was Imagination Station, where supplies like Model Magic clay, pipe cleaners, Popsicle sticks and googly eyes were provided and kids could let their imaginations run wild.
Max Vanderberghe, 7, and Chloe Jablonski, 8, both of Seymour, couldn’t wait to get their hands on the clay.
“I can’t decide if I want to make something 2D or 3D,” Vanderberghe said.
He then explained to the other kids the difference between the two.
“2D is when something is flat,” he said. “3D is when it has sides.”
Jablonski said making art is one of her favorite activities.
“It’s so much fun because you can make anything,” she said.
Music also was a big part of the art camp experience this year. Campers worked with volunteer Leah Schneider on sight reading music and had the opportunity to play dulcimers, handheld percussion instruments and choir chimes.
Hiro Suzuki, 9, of Seymour said the dulcimers were the most difficult instrument to learn.
“It was hard,” he said “I messed up every time.”
But he loved playing percussion instruments like the maracas and triangle.
“I think I got pretty good by the end,” he said.
This year saw the return of the camps to the arts center on North Ewing Street. Last year, volunteers took the camps on the road, setting up in area parks and other locations throughout the city and county.
The mobile art camps were a way for the center to cut costs and to still offer art education in the summer without having a paid director. Last month, the arts center hired Sean Hildreth of Seymour to fill that position.
The camps wouldn’t be possible without the arts center’s members, donors and volunteers and the several local businesses who provide sponsorship.
Each session was taught by community volunteers like Caroline Lucas, a student at Belmont University in Tennessee. She was back home in Seymour this summer and decided to help out at the camps.
Her aunt, Georgiann Coons, is a board member at SICA who also volunteers at art camp.
“I remember coming to art camp when I was a kid,” she said. “It’s great that our community offers this because kids don’t get to do much crafting anymore.”
She encouraged all of the students to have fun and not to worry if their projects didn’t look like someone else’s.
“That’s the whole point of art, to express yourself as an individual,” she said. “It’s so much about the experience, and whenever one of them says ‘I can’t do it,’ I tell them ‘I know you can.’”