MONTGOMERY — The GRID at BridgeValley has hosted a number of different workshops and classes over its existence, ranging from making a microwave bowl cozy to learning about e-commerce through social media and watercolor painting to Smart Devices for Seniors.
One week late last month, though, the makerspace on the Montgomery campus of BridgeValley Community & Technical College went to the kids.
Children ranging in age from six to 13 took part in an art day camp.
“It’s all about art this week,” Kasandra Parrish, camp organizer, said.
“We just wanted to expose the kids to different kinds of art. We just wanted them to find something that ignited a spark in them,” she said.
And the children turned out for the four-day camp. The youngsters came from Lockwood and from Charleston, from Montgomery and even from Atlanta, Georgia.
The campers engaged in a dizzying array of artistic ventures, instructed by hobbyists, teachers, professional artists and students.
Boys and girls alike learned the basics of sewing, making bookmarks, aprons and bandanas.
They practiced their painting skills through stained glass painting, watercolors and painting on canvas.
Jewelry and origami were explored.
There was embroidery, tie-dye and string art to learn, and the 19 students also were given the opportunity to learn about other cultures.
Among the art teachers was Mai Elsayed who was born in Egypt but now lives in Charleston and is a full-time student at West Virginia State University. She taught the students to make geometric foam mosaics using two styles of designs regularly used in Middle Eastern decorations on ceilings and walls, as well as aboriginal dot paintings.
“It’s similar to quilt patterns,” Elsayed said. In recognizing the popularity of quilting in Southern West Virginia, she said, “I thought they might have fun learning something similar from a different culture.”
Other teachers included Parrish, Pat Mason, Neisha Shank, Kevin Cunningham, Maggie Cavender and Bernice Deakins.
Following each day filled with art, the students were treated to a visit to the swimming pool at the Upper Kanawha Valley YMCA.
Ten-year old Sarah Grose, daughter of Steve and Kelly Grose of Lockwood, Nicholas County, said she really enjoyed learning how to cut foam for designs.
“I think the foam cutting was my favorite,” the Zela Elementary student said on the camp’s final day. “It was nice to learn something from Egypt.”
Sydnee Ward, an 11-year old from Charleston whose mother works at BridgeValley, said she enjoyed painting on canvas, while Riles Fuller, an 11-year old from Atlanta spending time this summer with relatives in the area, said he really enjoyed the sewing.
Pam Soscia, coordinator of the GRID, said she was pleased with the efforts of Parrish and the instructors who made use of BridgeValley’s vast makerspace combined with their talents to open new worlds for the students.
“I think it went well,” she said. “We were pretty much full (and) some of the art that came out of here was just fantastic.”
Parrish was so pleased with the day camp that she’s considering the possibility of additional activities throughout the school year. The GRID already offers a number of courses in a variety of arts and crafts for adults, but she hopes to expand the offerings.
“We’re thinking of doing more classes throughout the fall,” she said as the summer day camp wound down.
“And next year, we want to add a little more to the summer camp.”
For more on The GRID at BridgeValley, visit https://www.bridgevalley.edu/grid
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