Island Arts: Experience the arts during April’s Aspiring Artists Month

I’ve spoken often enough about the Art League Marco Island’s Center for the Arts providing a learning experience. For most, when we think of learning, we think of education or taking classes. However, learning is much more than that. It is also experience. For the month of April, the Center for the Arts has focused on experience; providing an experience to observe and participate with artists or as artists in an effort to learn. With a focus on the visual arts, April has become what is known at the organization as Aspiring Artists Month.

We kicked off the month with an Adult Student Exhibit. What a great growth for the organization. I spoke about this event a few weeks ago, and if you missed this exhibit you really missed it! The talent that exists right here on our island always has amazed me, but I was definitely not prepared for such a spectacular display of works! This truly provided a learning experience for the participants, instructors, visitors and for us at the Art League. We learned that showing what we offer, what people can do and offering this opportunity to students provides a great sense of accomplishment and marketing to boot!

So if this was our kick-off, how do we follow-up? Not to worry. Since 1983 the Art League has provided a scholarship program for Collier County high school juniors and seniors who wish to continue their education in the arts. Since 2002 alone, the program has distributed over $200,000 in merit and scholarship awards. Pretty amazing! These young artists bring to light their traditional trainings in addition new cutting edge ideas in creating art. The talent that comes through our doors is inspiring to the future of the arts. This experience provides these young artists with completing the application and submission process, participation in a public gallery exhibition and having their work critiqued by professionals in the arts. This exhibit provides us with an expression of the young artists’ experiences, exposure to new and exciting art forms, and awareness that the arts are an important and valuable asset to our education process. I count that as a learning experience. Oh yeah, by the way, there’s a chance to meet these students. There will be an awards ceremony and reception takes at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 24.

Wrapping up the month is the center’s very own Young Artist Academy Exhibit. This annual program was developed in 2006 thanks to the underwriting by the Suzanne Arnold Foundation. Although this program provides great educational opportunities as it introduces the participants to 4 artists in their media of specialty, it is much more than that. The program is geared toward eighth grade level students who have demonstrated skills and interest in the visual arts. The students are selected and commit to 24 sessions. They become a team. They come to practice each week of the season with a goal in mind: to complete a piece of work in each medium of instruction. The learning experience goes a step further. The second part of this program is to encourage these young artists to continue their education and training in art and to use the tools and skills they are taught in the Academy as outlets to battle the changes that will take place as they enter high school; the peer pressures, the emotional roller coaster rides, the advanced academic challenges. We encourage the students to take these tools and obtain a way to provide a learning experience for themselves to overcome the obstacles they may face as they continue their journey in life. The program provides these young artists with the experience of participating in a professional gallery exhibit — April 26 through May 1 — showcasing their works in progress, accomplishments and thoughts on what the program meant to them. It provides us with a way to learn more about what they may be thinking, what they want to express, and of course what media they were exposed to.

So maybe you thought learning can only happen in a classroom. Open your minds learning is more than that; open up and experience learning; open your eyes and see what you can learn. Open up to the arts, and see what it can teach you.

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