Camp draws young and not so young

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By Chris Sardelli

After two weeks of hard work, Raquel Barros looked proudly at her artistic accomplishments.

At one end of the classroom at Lancaster High School sat two paper mache masks she sculpted. At her desk, she was putting the finishing touches on a beach scene she had painted with acrylics.

These different artistic styles were just some of the techniques Barros and other students learned at the Lancaster Summer Institute of Art program.

The program began July 13 and ended Thursday.

Barros, 42, works at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster and had originally looked at the program for her two children.

But with only one spot left, she decided to take the class and then teach them herself.

She was amazed at the number of techniques she learned, including creating paint colors, stretching canvas over wood frames and sculpting masks.

“There was so much to learn in just two weeks,” Barros said. “It was a lot of work, but it was rewarding, too. It was this feeling that I have done something creative today. And I felt just like a kid again.”

The program, funded by the Lancaster County Council of the Arts, the S.C. Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, is open to anyone from middle school to adulthood.

There were several classes offered, including printmaking, media arts, pottery wheel, jewelry design, mask-making and canvas panels.

The classes cost $150 each, which included supplies, though scholarships were available to some students as chosen by their teachers.

Teresa Fields, who taught the mask-making and canvas-panel classes, said the program was very successful.

She said each student, no matter their age, supported each other in the different styles they learned.

“They discovered techniques they could do and were amazed at seeing the end products,” Fields said. “I was excited to see them come out with different things and how they expanded on the medium and adjusted it to different themes.”

Course coordinator Dianne Mahaffee was pleased with the diverse group of ages that attended the program, from young children to those in their 60s.

“Their ages were different, but they share a commonality because they want to learn about art, share their skills and broaden their horizons,” Mahaffee said. “They’re all artistically brilliant or they wouldn’t be here.”

Mahaffee was particularly impressed with one group of students that spanned several generations.

Nicki Gardner, 41, attended the program with both her mother Nancy Port, 62, and her daughter, Krissy Gardner, 15.

All three decided to take Mahaffee’s jewelry-design class, learning how to work with silver and also how to use a kiln, which are oven-like devices used to harden material such as ceramics.

“My mom and I have taken classes before and enjoyed them. So we decided the summer would be a good time to take another class,” Nicki Gardner said.

On their last day of class, Nicki Gardner completed a Victorian-style cross pendant, while Krissy was finishing a pair of earrings made to look like a Converse sneaker and logo.

“I feel like I made some good pieces this summer,” Krissy said.

This was the first year the program has run, though Mahaffee expects the program will grow next year.

“This is a uniquely wonderful program and I hope to see it get even better,” Mahaffee said.

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli  at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416