This summer, about 150 children in grades K-6 participated in week-long sessions of the Greater Reston Art Center (GRACE) Summer Art Program. They experimented in painting, drawing, ceramics and more. GRACE has been running the summer program for 17 years, but this year, for the first time, the fruits of the children’s labor will receive a full exhibition at GRACE’s Reston Town Center base.
Amanda Nybro of Fairfax, a rising junior and an art history/economics major at Duke University, is GRACE’s summer intern responsible for coordinating the exhibition, which will open with a reception on Thursday, Aug. 14 and run through Sept. 2. The exhibition will feature one piece of artwork from each student in the summer program. Nybro is excited to give their works “that extra step into the gallery.” “The kids love what they do so much,” she said.
DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR, GRACE runs a program called Art in the Schools in 43 area schools. In March they hold an exhibition in conjunction with Youth Art Month and display collaborative works produced by all schools. “It is a riot of color and energy and expression,” said Jerold Kappel, president and CEO of GRACE.
This year, the popular summer program will also receive a show. “It’s art education, and that’s part of our mission,” said Amy Kropka, manager of the summer program. GRACE also holds monthly workshops for children on different themes.
Megan Gleason, art teacher at Waples Mill Elementary School, teaches the Summer Art Program at Fox Mill Elementary. Four different weeklong programs were taught in July. “Going Buggy,” was on perspective, and “Experience the Elements,” on the elements of art; both were for kindergartners through third graders. “All-Ways Painting” and “American Art” was taught to children in grades four through six. “Experience the Elements” was offered both mornings and afternoons due to its popularity. Students in all the classes have seven to 10 assignments due during the week.
"I love working during the summer because it gives me the opportunity to work on individual projects and see the same children every day," Gleason said.
GRACE board member Linnea Hammer has sent her daughter Skylar Lisse to the program for three years. “It’s a really fine art camp,” she said. “The kids are exposed to a lot of different techniques and styles ... and they have fun.”
THE CHILDREN’S CREATIVITY earns raves from GRACE. “Nothing is holding them back,” said Kropka.
At the end of each week, a reception was held at Fox Mill for parents and children with the children’s artwork displayed. The children rate their own work with a sticker system. One sticker is given to the child’s favorite of their works, another to the one they spent the most time on, another to the one which they think could sell for the highest price. Gleason awards the best work by her estimation with an additional sticker. Nybro makes the final choice for the exhibition. “I wish I could take more examples from every kid,” she said.
Nybro started at GRACE in May with the organization of the Summer Art Program Grand Finale Exhibition at the top of her agenda. “I wanted to see what it was like to work with art instead of just admire it,” she said. Nybro also wanted to work with a non-profit organization. Her full time internship is sponsored by Exxon Mobil. The standard two month internship has been extended by a month for Nybro.
“I’ve become a part of the team,” Nybro said. “They really needed me ... I’ve been able to help.” One of her responsibilities has been sending out 2,000 invitations to the exhibition to the children's families, GRACE members, program volunteers, the media, galleries and more.
NYBRO’S SUMMER internship with GRACE culminates with the Aug. 14 reception. She will study art history at University College London this fall and, back at Duke, she will continue her involvement in the arts on the Student Advisory Board for the new Duke University Nasher Museum, scheduled to open in 2005. She is also looking at Christy’s Auction House’s master's program. She said her GRACE internship has peaked her interest in working with art.
GRACE is planning a move this winter to a larger space at Reston Town Center, with room for permanent, as well as temporary exhibits. Participation in the Summer Art Program costs $135 for GRACE members and $160 for non-members, with sign-up in March. Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. Call GRACE at 703-471-9242.