On June 25 to the 27th the Women’s Caucus of Art was represented by Shaqe Kalaj (pronounced shacha call-eye) at Camp Rainbear at the Fowler Center for Outdoor Learning in Mayville MI. A group of families from Detroit yearly have a retreat at the camp. This year Shaqe came in as the teaching artist and did art with the children and adults. Art was drop-in format held on a deck right next to the dining facilities. The focus was on printmaking, specifically block printing. To get an idea how printing worked, kids and adults worked on styrofoam, then tried carving into potatoes then the older kids and adults worked in linocut.
Many people came in with ideas of what they wanted to so I helped them create what they wanted. For a lot them this was their first time trying printmaking. Many people wanted to create their name. The idea that you could print this 100s of times intrigued them. But the difficulty with doing words was that you have to draw it backwards. Many had to put their thinking caps on. With their prints I had them print on a large mural that they kept adding to and even painting on. However, we did not finish it but its something they are going to add to next year.
There were several individuals that stayed on the desk for a long period of time learning and exploring through their art. One young man just finished high school and was going to attend college this coming fall. He will be starting art classes in the fall. He had never explored printmaking. It was really fun to see him experiment with the media. He worked with abstracting and took it a step forward on was trying multicolors in the same print.
There was another young woman that came and started working and found a voice for herself through art. She said that she had not done art for awhile. She did a design in the styrofoam and then went into the linocut and did two linocuts. Then she started exploring painting. She did a nature scene. After finishing it we talked about what she did and then I pinpointed a very interesting part to the painting and told her to try painting another picture focusing on that technique. It was really amazing where she took that painting. Something that grabbed her and allowed her to see what she could really do.
I started making drawings of some of the kids in styrofoam that they printed themselves. They seemed to really like the fact that I was drawing them. There were many that made some jewelry and others that focused on painting. On Sunday morning there were many young children who wanted to paint. They really explored color and movement in their paintings. The last art event at the camp was when there was a storm and everyone had to stay in the dining room. So several kids and adults participated in a game called “musical art chairs.” I got a young girl to sing for us. How the game works is that it is similar to musical chairs except that when the music is going on you are drawing and then when the music stops, you pass your drawing to the right. I was able to get a young singer to sing for us. When everyone received their drawings they were surprised and wanted to continue the game.
Overall that camp was a good experience that gave people an avenue to experience art and try new things.