La Grange campers take time for art
Little People's Academy of Arts and Education director of arts and outdoor environment Norine Brennan praises 9-year-old Nathan Melby of Western Springs on his art work.| Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 3, 2012 6:02AM
LA GRANGE — Kids at a summer day camp get plenty of fresh air and exercise, but they also have ample time for art appreciation, instruction and creating their own masterpieces.
Little People’s Country Academy of Arts & Education schedules trips to area pools, cultural attractions and nature centers and sets aside time for art almost every day in the program’s studio at 211 W. Hillgrove Ave., La Grange, or on the go.
“We’ve studied Frank Lloyd Wright, Alexander Calder who created the moveable mobile and the painter Georgia O’Keeffe,” said art instructor Noreen Brennan, who shows her students key elements of each artist.
“We talked about Michelangelo’s sculptures and introduced a unit working with clay,” Brennan said. “They learned how it took him four years to paint the Sistine Chapel. When they leave here, they know a little bit about the artists.”
Campers age 5 to 12 hunched over tables and sorted through an array of buttons, zippers, fabric swatches, sticks, tile and thread. Each selected items for a blueprint collage of a home on a sheet of cardboard.
“We did a walking tour of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in Oak Park,” Brennan said. “We talked about what happens when an architect comes and helps you design your house.”
Eric White, 7, of La Grange, glued a button on a round piece of paper.
“I did a little bit of an abstract design. I was thinking of this being a table,” Eric said. “I like the art studio because we can do a lot of stuff.”
Xavier Gawer Barden, 8, of LaGrange Park, said he appreciated having a variety of materials to incorporate into his collage.
“I like the zippers. You can twist them, and with the string, you can tie sticks together,” Xavier said. “I also liked using the paper towel roll; it makes it kind of 3D.”
Xavier said he likes the camp’s emphasis on art, after he attended the school and childcare center for kindergarten.
“I like getting time to make art and crafts here,” he said. “We can do stuff here we can’t normally do at home. There are all these materials.”
Ingrid Schaller, 9, of Western Springs, said after studying Michelangelo, she created Bob the Blob family with his wife and four children.
“I like it here. It gives me good memories and reminds me of when I was a little kid coming here,” Ingrid said.
Brennan said the art programs are offered throughout the year, beginning with children as young as 16 months.
“With toddlers on up, if you put stuff out there for them to use and it’s interesting and tactile enough, they will make something awesome,” she said. “The hardest thing is to just leave them alone. Kids are just so creative.”
Brennan said she introduces age-appropriate details from the artists’ lives. Toddlers learn that the impressionist painter Claude Monet made lily pads and had seven children, she said.
“Some are done with their art projects in two minutes. Others really focus and get into it,” she said. “They’re not all going to be enthusiastic about art, but we’d like to give them the opportunity.
“It’s their work, and whatever they take away form here, it’s amazing,” she said.