The Lea County Center for the Arts is filled with the voices of children two days a week during its After School Art Classes.
The center offers two classes a week — Wednesday is for elementary-age kids and Thursdays, middle school-age youth take over — from 4 to 5 p.m. And, for both groups, it’s all about creating.
“We do a lot of projects,” said instructor Cari Combs. “It’s about keeping kids safe and having fun. Art is supposed to be fun; we have a good time.”
On one particular Wednesday, four budding artists created brightly-colored yarn monsters complete with pipe cleaner antennae, googly eyes, sparkly jewels and more. Then, having some extra time waiting for parents to pick them up, the kids turned to a collection of multi-colored beads to create bracelets reflecting their own artistic vision.
“The best part about (art) is anyone can do it,” said Esteban Flores, 10. “You can be three years old and if you know how to draw or color, you can do it. That’s the best thing about art.”
His classmates, Chloe Barrientos, 6, and twin brothers Marc and Camden Sparenberg, 8, agreed. They all attend the class for different reasons but they share a love of creating, they said.
“Not only do we get to do art, but we make new friends,” Camden said. “Art is not about making something perfect; it’s about having fun.”
The kids get exposed to a different style of art during every class. Whether it’s making their own chalk to watercolor painting to tape art — covering part of a canvas with masking tape to create a pattern or design that’s revealed when it’s painted over and the tape removed — there’s something in the class for all involved.
“What I like about art is not only like we can make cool things, we can learn about art,” Marc said. “I like this art class because it’s really fun, I get to learn new things and make new friends.”
Chloe’s thoughts on the class were similar: “I like art because you can make crafts, make bracelets, little monsters.”
And being at the LCCA, the kids get a chance to see where their budding artistic endeavors could take them, Combs said. Incorporating pieces from the periodic shows of local, teen and adult artists the LCCA hosts gives the children a look at what’s possible and helps illustrate some of the lessons Combs is trying to teach.
“We’ve gone around and talked about the art,” she said. “We’ve talked about abstract painting, things like that.”
The classes immerse the children in art through the variety of projects they do. And the best part is, everything — from lessons to all the supplies they use — is provided by LCCA free of charge to the families.
“We’re glad to be able to do this with the kids,” Combs said. “They’ve been kept inside for the past year, now they can actually get out with other kids and do things they enjoy.”
The classes are offered weekly and there’s always room for more students, she said. Registration is available via the “After School Art Classes” link on the LCCA website,.
“We’re always open to new kids,” Combs said. “Every week is different; we just play it by ear.”