A special guest taught the first week of the visual arts class in DD2’s GATEWAY summer arts program: Cynthia Colbert, an art education professor in the school of art and design at the University of South Carolina.
This is the second year Colbert has had the opportunity to teach visual arts in the summer program. Her class consisted of rising fourth- and fifth-graders, who were hard at work at making tempera resist paintings on June 13.
Tempera resist is a technique for adding depth to a piece by adding India ink to the base artwork, then washing away most of the tempera paint.
The group calls itself the Visual Vipers.
“They’re enthusiastic,” Colbert said about her students. “They’re here to learn and they love it.”
For over a week students from all over the district have been participating in the GATEWAY program at Rollings Middle School of the Arts and Spann Elementary. The acronym stands for Gifted And Talented Education With Artistic Youth.
GATEWAY is a DD2 arts program for artistically gifted students. The program consists of five Super Saturdays during the school year and two weeks in the summer, concluding with a Saturday open house and festival.
The summer program had students participating in theater, dance, visual arts, vocal music and instrumental music.
Colbert said the purpose is to get children turned on to the arts while they are still young.
“If you don’t get into art now you’re afraid of it later – because you think you can’t do it,” she said. “These kids are going to feel empowered. I really think it will change them – I hope.”
Colbert said her art students have been very motivated and love to collaborate with each other.
“These are really nice kids and they’re smart kids,” she said.
Sydney Greer, a rising fifth grader at Reeves Elementary, was hard at work with a painting of a horse.
“I’m horse-crazy,” she said. “I have a stable right across from my house.”
Greer said she and her classmates have enjoyed having Colbert as a teacher.
“I like that the teachers are really kind and love our artwork all the time,” she said.
The students are working toward the open house on June 21, when visual arts students get to show off their artwork and the performing arts students will be putting on different performances. In preparation for the art show, Sarah Jones, a rising fourth-grader at Reeves, has been working on a poster for the Visual Vipers.
“Our motto is ‘it’s always better together,’” she said.
Larry Barnfield, DD2’s fine arts director, said most of the teachers who lead the summer classes are teachers from throughout the district – such as Lorraine White, Alston Middle School’s fine arts director who came to teach the vocal music group.
Colbert was specially invited, as was Jeff Jordan, who came from Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary in Charleston to lead the theater class.
Barnfield swung by the visual arts class to see what students were working on.
“It’s so wonderful to see these kids have this experience,” he said. “To have Dr. Colbert come and work with us is just terrific.”