Published 6:11 pm Friday, June 20, 2014

For a while, the kids at Art Camp at studio 116 in Brundidge were afraid to start. Until …

“It’s art. You can’t mess it up.”

With that, the creativity ran free.

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Sara Dismukes and her husband, Chris Rich, are co-directors of studio 116 and directors of Art Camp, which is a three-week, themed art camp designed for ages 5 through 12. The campers explore the worlds of land, sea and sky through a variety of art projects that include painting, printmaking, sculpture, clay, “not just pencil and paper,” Rich said.

“The kids ask, ‘Can we paint anything?’ and we say, ‘anything’ because that’s the way they create.”

Rich said creativity happens even when one student makes a paper mache’ whale and another says, ‘I can do that’ and then does it.

The copy-catting of ideas often happens with children.

Dismukes and Rich probably know that better than most. But, at Art Camp, they provide campers with creative opportunities inside and outside the box.

Three paper mache whales lay side-by-side on the studio floor, but each of them is different. Rich said, with raised eyebrows and a nod of the head, “They’re different; that’s OK. That’s being creative within the box.”

If the whales had been clones of each other, they would have been “in the box” and that would not have allowed for creativity. But, they weren’t.

They were different shapes. One was short and fat. One was long and thin.

They were different sizes. One would fit in a breadbox. One would not.

One had fins and one did not. They were whales, but all created in the imagination of a child.

“The first week of Art Camp we focused on land,” Dismukes said. “The art activities were related to plants, animals and insects. This week, the theme was the sea and the art projects were related to the ocean and the beaches and the exciting things seen there.”

At the end of each week of camp, the artwork is on exhibit and the campers invite their families and friends to view their artwork.

“They are so proud of what they have done,” Dismukes said. “And, the kids enjoy sharing their artwork with their parents.”

Joy Lunsford said Art Camp was unique experience for her children, Jaxen and Jennalee.

“They looked forward to going every day,” she said. “They loved the theme.They liked the projects and Jennalee said they made a lot of ‘cool stuff.’”

Lunsford liked the fact that the classes were kept small.

“I felt like the children learned more and experience more in a small setting,” she said.

Rich said the camp was limited in number so that each child could receive individual attention.

“We wanted each child to feel a part of the camp,” he said. “And, I believe they did. I wasn’t sure how much one kid was enjoying the camp. But, he told his mom he wanted to come back the next week. So you just never know. Art Camp is an experience we wanted to offer because some kids already know they like art and others find out they like it.”

Dismukes said studies have shown that children who are involved in creative endeavors tend to excel in academics, specifically math and music.

“Art provides other ways to think about things and that’s beneficial when problem solving,” Rich said. “Art also relaxes the mind and kids need to relax their minds that just like adults.”

The directors said the purpose of Art Camp is not to create artists but to encourage kids to think about things in a creative way.

Studio 116 is located at 116 South Main Street in downtown Brundidge. The studio features an art gallery, workshops and a performance venue. Art Camp will continue next week with the theme of the sky.