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Bringing History Alive Through Art

After relocating to Old Town Alexandria three months ago, artist Leisa Collins, noticed a lack of young people involved in the historic and restoration movement and decided to do something about it.

Recently she held the first of a series of free art workshops entitled "Bringing History Alive Through Art" where she helped a team of children to paint their first house portrait of an Old Town historic building.

Collins herself specializes in historic Old Town and has now painted 30 homes or hidden garden originals as part of her series: "The Faces and Homes of Historic Old Town Alexandria – Connecting the Past with the Present."

The seven children participating are 8 – 12-year-old students of Chesapeake Academy in Springfield and the workshop is a field trip that is part of their summer activities. The children first learned historical tidbits about buildings in the 100 block of N. Alfred Street. Then, under the supervision of Collins, they set about creating their own painting of a selected building.

"Each child not only walked away with a piece of art they are proud of," said Collins, "but they also gained a greater appreciation of the architecture of the past and got to see how it relates to the present." All completed art will now be exhibited on an online gallery for children that Collins created to give a forum to youth to display their works.

A native of New Zealand, Collins took up her paintbrush and full-time art career eight months ago after two decades of activities that took her to the four corners of the globe. In that time she and her husband traveled a total of 25,000 road miles first across the U.S. and then all over New Zealand searching for the perfect place to live. They stumbled across Old Town after taking a wrong turn on Duke and ending up at the Potomac end of King Street and decided to make it their home.