In the future, creative minds will be valued ever increasingly. We live in a world that promotes commodity over creativity. The current problems we are experiencing as a nation stem from our dependence on others. Once we can reverse this lifestyle, the country will be able to produce its own goods and creatively solve its own problems.
It is inspiring to see artwork created by children. With budget cuts threatening students' access to art education, it is up to those of us with the necessary resources and skills to continue the tradition of fine arts in our younger generations.
Programs like Youth Services of Tulsa do just that. YST is an umbrella organization with a number of programs that cater to the needs of teenagers in our community. Scott Heberling, Youth Activity Center Director, created YST's art program with Executive Director Jim Walker five years ago.
At the time, the new facility at 3rd and Madison provided more space and opportunities for working with area youth. The first art session at YST had 12 students and 3 studios to work with. The program has grown continually, now boasting 55 students and 5-6 studios available for use.
Growth has allowed for more complexity in class offerings, with recent additions of glass blowing, wheel throwing and experimental photography. For the past three years, YST has worked with Philbrook. The alliance has allowed for exhibition space for YST openings.
YST Art programs are open to any area teenagers, aged 12 to 17.
"These classes are darn cheap! All supplies are provided for the twelve weeks that make up the course," said Heberling.
I started this program with the realization that the more schools cut back on funding for art education, the more us non-profits would have the responsibility to step up and pick up the slack."
This spring, I worked as a facilitator for Living Arts' ArtCore program. I learned a lot from observing children's interaction with creative materials and processes. Kids really are little adults, with all the tools necessary to create. They sometimes just need a little encouragement.
YST's art exhibit is on display in the Ben D. Floyd, Jr. Education Center Gallery, on the lower level of Philbrook.
On display is a variety of media, as YST offers a variety of different classes each semester.
This time around, linocuts, ceramics, blown glass, photographs and "comic book fantasy art" are featured, and the student's work covers a lot of ground.
Earthy, high-fire ceramic pieces were on display behind a glass cage. Nautilus-inspired spirals, tri-colored bowls and other functional forms and a rose that resembling a pipe make up the collection.
It is impressive to see the students work both in hand-built ceramics and wheel-thrown pieces. After dabbling in and out of throwing clay on a wheel, I have learned that one definitely needs patience and tenacity in order to be a potter.
Mixed-media paintings were on display as well. "I Wish I Could," by Taylor Endsley is a vision in technicolor. A feather has been used as a stencil, so actual texture has been built up on the surface. Neon blue and pink make up the color scheme, and I had to get close to observe the physical juxtaposition of the two colors.
When done effectively, two bright colors such as these will appear to vibrate at the point where they interact, a result of the high frequencies of energy emanating from the colors themselves.
Other paintings and linocuts display similar day-glo colors and implied/actual textures. The students obviously had fun experimenting with the processes and techniques.
I had the opportunity to speak with a couple of the young artists, and was not surprised to hear glowing accounts of the excitement of participating in YST's classes.
A linocut on display by Karen Kline entitled "Edwardo" was one of the strongest prints on display. A vague avian form stands amidst a sea of layered, vibrant colors.
Kline really enjoyed her experience.
"My instructors were really helpful. They really know what they are talking about and helped me understand my craft better."
When asked about the title of her piece, Kline responded, "I named him 'Edwardo' because of the color scheme I used. It reminded me of a fiesta."
Work by the Intermediate Glass Blowing class was on display as well, with a variety of forms and colors on display. The work is honestly very impressive, knowing it was created by students experimenting.
Beadwork and Jewelry were on display next to the glasswork, and this work was fun, with many different colored beads on display.
The experimental photography was a treat because of the vague nature of the subject matter. Works by students like Ying Ye combine layers of superimposed imagery to create a new statement. Part of the fun part of viewing these is figuring out what was being photographed in the first place.
There were many works in the Comic book & Fantasy Art genre. These drawings, inspired by Japanese manga, feature mature themes and imagery.
The work of Molly Hudson, a 15-year old from Broken Arrow, is essentially story board art for the series of books she is developing. Five teens from a different dimension are sent to Earth on a mission. Hudson was certainly excited about the lack of strict project criteria.
"Our instructor gave us a script and that was it. We had to create our own characters and design the setting. I am very proud of what I was able to come up with," Hudson said.
She is a girl very excited about her future in the arts. She is inspired by anime, and her first exposure to it was through Speed Racer and Sailor Moon, something we had in common! She plays double bass in the Broken Arrow Chamber Orchestra, and will travel to Europe soon to visit museums.
Hudson considers her time with YST a huge success.
"I leave class happy every day because I am doing what I enjoy doing. I have made new friends and been exposed to an environment I might not normally have access," she said.
Interesting enough, Hudson thinks of her art instructors as coaches.
"I showed my final piece for the YST show to my high school art teachers and they said they liked it and thought it was perfect. That was good to hear, but I prefer the critical guidance of my YST instructor. It helps me to see what I need to work on and what can be improved," she reflected.
Sounds like excellent pre-art school training.
The Youth Services of Tulsa gallery opening will remain on display through June 1 during regular museum hours.
"ArtSoup," the summer installment of YST studio classes begins the week of June 9. Most studios are 12 weeks. Classes include Osage Finger Weaving, Experimental Photography, Mixed Media Painting, Wheel Throwing, Beadwork & Jewelry Making, Potter Hand Building, YST Drama Troupe, and Groove, a new workshop for the young poets, musicians and percussionists in your life. Groove is offered in a new partnership with the National Indian Monument & Institute.
For more information, contact Scott Heberling at Sheberling@yst.org or 382-4427. You may also log onto www.yst.org.
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