June 16, 2014
Connect with Art Summer Camp
Top Caption: Akua holding original Degas on the right and Zazu holding his version of Degas on the left, which was created using the ‘upside down’ drawing method.
If you’re reading this, school is probably out for summer break, or about to go on break in the next few weeks. For some, the search for summer camps for children can seem overwhelming, expensive, and offerings that excite are few and far between. I was happy to learn about Akua Gaudry’s Connect with Art summer camp in Takoma Park, MD for children ages 6-10, and have shared our interview below.
TAP: Describe your craft/art,
AG: I would have to say that my art is eclectic. I create many different types of artwork, from Asian inkwash, to pastel drawings, to pencil drawings. I know that this postmodern period of art stresses detaching art from reality, but for some reason I find myself drawn to the human figure and constantly depicting it. I have recently become interested in hyperrealism, and I have been trying my hand at it.
TAP: Your summer arts camp, Connect with Art, kicks off for its second year—what is special about your camp?
AG: First, this camp is unique because not only will the children learn techniques from the great European and American Masters like Auguste Renoir, Mary Cassat and Claude Monet, but they will also learn traditional and modern art techniques from different regions of the world like Africa and Asia. We will also focus on studying techniques from great African American artists such as Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden. The purpose is to expose the children to a broader array of art techniques and open their mind to new cultures.
This camp is also unique because it combines French immersion with learning art techniques. I have seen few French immersion camps in the DC-area, and none that solely focus on art. Our approach to French immersion is fun and based on engaging activities such as songs, games, and role playing around art. French is one of the languages widely spoken around the world, and our approach to French immersion is to reflect the entire Francophone community.
TAP: How do you feel exposure to the arts impacts children?
AG: Salvador Dali said, ‘those that do not want to imitate anything produce nothing.’ Children are the best imitators, and being exposed to art awakens them and allows them to see how to take what they see before themselves, and to first represent it, and then to make the world around them their own. It allows them to show others things they have not seen before, and frees them to express who they are innately. I also feel that being able to represent reality as they see it makes them feel a sense of ownership and power. The children imitate various art techniques from Master artists, and will integrate them to create their own artwork.
Art is a universal language which allows artists, including children, to be exposed and to incorporate different cultures into their creations. This naturally fosters an appreciation and respect for other cultures.
TAP: What was a pivotal moment for you that sparked your interest in the arts?
AG: I remember when my mother’s friend showed me how to draw a person sitting on a chair–I didn’t realize how it would excite me and would make me use every opportunity to draw, and in fact, to define life as I saw it. I created art and even went to an arts high school, but in college I rejected studying art as a major because I said to myself ‘I don’t want to starve.’ The past few years were spent trying to create myself in an image of what I thought others valued instead of honoring God with the talents that he gave me. Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband, who kept encouraging me to pursue art-related activities, and to define myself not according to what I thought others valued. I should have also listened to what my father has always been telling me, ‘Do what you love.’ Recently, I went through a period of self/career analysis and realized that what I have been running from is doing the very thing that I love to do.
TAP: Describe your creative process/ritual, and finally,
AG: My creative process is very organic. Something piques my interest and immediately, when I have a free moment, I depict what I have imagined. I normally do not have a lot of time, so I work on a piece in stages. Sometimes it can be frustrating because it seems that I will never complete a piece. Often I have to agree with myself that the piece is complete even if I wish to work some more on it.
This is one of the reasons why I have become interested in sumi-e painting. It is supposed to be completed in one sitting. I like the fact that it requires few brush strokes. Also, I really enjoy the process because it is very different from what I am used to doing. I appreciate the meditation involved and the attention to capturing the essence of an object as opposed to simply depicting it.
TAP: How can families in the Maryland, DC and Virginia region register for your summer camp?
AG: To register for our summer camp, please fill out the registration form on our website. Parents can also email me at email@example.com or call me at 301-503-5294.
Akua Gaudry is a visual artist. She studied art throughout high school at Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts and took several arts courses at Mount Holyoke College. During the summer and fall of 2006, Gaudry taught art in Ghana to children with autism at Autism Awareness Care and Training (AACT). Dance is Gaudry’s other artistic passion. She has studied West African dance forms at Mount Holyoke College with Bamidele Dancers and Drummers, in France with Une Touche d’Ebène (West African dance association), and in Accra, Ghana. She has taught West African dance forms to various groups including students at the Alliance Francaise in Washington, D.C., and attendees at Northwest Community Church. Learn more at www.connectwithart.org, or connect on twitter @connectwithart3.
Tags: Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, Alliance Francaise, arts appreciation, Arts Camp for Children, Auguste Renoir, Bamidele Dancers and Drummers, Connect with Art summer camp, Degas, France, Francophone, French immersion, Ghana, hyperrealism, Jacob Lawrence, Mount Holyoke College, Romare Bearden, sumi-e painting, Takoma Park, Une Touche d'Ebène, upside down drawing method, Youth Arts program