Art Department, City of Carson and Boys and Girls Club Collaborate on After-School Activity for Teens
On a rainy January afternoon, a group of Carson High School students gathered in a classroom to participate in a printmaking class given by Jim Keville, assistant professor of art. The after-school workshop, which runs for three more weeks, was made possible through a collaboration between the University Art Gallery at California State University, Dominguez Hills, the Carson Fine Arts and Historical Commission, and the Boys and Girls Club of Carson.
According to Kathy Zimmerer, director of the University Art Gallery, the program was inspired by last fall’s exhibit, “60 x 60: Prints from the Purdue University Collection.” With funding from the Carson Fine Arts and Historical Commission, the gallery conducted a series of 16 workshops during the exhibit’s run for local elementary, middle school, and high school students through the Boys and Girls Club. Students learned several printing techniques including monoprinting and woodblock printing. They also toured the exhibit and did basic claywork in the ceramics studio, guided by Keville.
“Augmenting the school curriculum with art workshops is a great way to share university expertise and connect with our surrounding community,” says Zimmerer. “Making art at every level fuels critical and creative thinking which all of our children need to compete in our increasingly complicated, technical, and globalized society.”
Keville says that while art classes are available at local schools, many students have told him that the classes are often at capacity and difficult to get into. Through their presentation last fall at a Carson City Council meeting, he and Zimmerer were able to convince the Fine Arts and Historical Commission that an after-school program was a necessity. He says that exposure to “low-tech” methods of printmaking teaches the younger, more technology-oriented generation valuable problem-solving skills.
“[These classes] show you how to do more with less,” Keville notes. “It shows that you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment and materials to create successful and aesthetically-pleasing art and design work.”
Judith Diaz of the Boys and Girls Club assisted Keville with the workshops. She says that as a teenager, she always sought out after-school activities such as sports and volunteer work with her community in order to “have that connection with other students and to grow more as an individual.”
“That helped me out a lot and that’s what I tell the kids now,” she says. “I tell them, ‘Stay after school, get involved in different activities. It’s going to help you grow and shape you into the person you’ll become in the future. If you make the right decisions now, in the future you will definitely do well.’”
For some of the students, the time spent in after-school activities has more immediate benefits. Keville says that art classes are also a good way for young people to channel their emotions, whether negative or positive, into risk-free behavior.
“I had a student last Thursday who was extremely upset about something,” says Keville. “He didn’t want to do anything, but some of the other students persuaded him that it would be a good way for him to process his feelings and express them or to just get his mind off of it. He ended up doing a print plate that had a lot of anger in it. But it allowed him to express his feelings in a positive way that didn’t cause harm to anybody.”
“You can tell when students feel good about what they’re doing,” Keville says. “It raises their self-esteem and encourages them to do more.”
Devin Hill, a freshman on the Carson junior varsity football team is taking a break from sports and music to explore the visual arts.
“I usually do the DJ Club,” says Hill, who is creating a print block that reads, “Carson Colts” on either side of a football helmet. “But I wanted to do something creative and fun that I could put my emotions into.”
- Joanie Harmon
Photos above: Jim Keville, assistant professor of art, teaches students at Carson High School the monoprint technique. L-R: Viviana Gonzalez, junior and Linda Penalonzo, sophomore
Freshman and junior varsity linebacker Devin Hill takes a break from football to explore his artistic side with the help of Judith Diaz of the Boys and Girls Club.
Photos by Joanie Harmon