Every year the art center hosts an Adventures in Art program that invites Auburn elementary school fifth-grade students to an art exhibit that focuses on the specific theme for that year.
This year’s Adventures in Art focused on the Aboriginal Australian culture. Four elementary schools over the course of four days, from Aug. 29–Sept. 1, were given a free field trip to the event.
Past themes have been the Renaissance, the Autobahn and nature sustainability.
Next year’s theme will center on Native Americans in Alabama, said Adventures in Art coordinator Cari Cleckler. Cleckler is an art education specialist with the City of Auburn Parks and Recreation Department. And on top of arranging Adventures in Art for the past seven years, Cleckler also teaches a ceramics class in the art center.
The students were told Aboriginal creation stories and got to dance, drum or act out stories from Aboriginal culture. They also participated in an initial performance, group activities and a walkthrough to view the art work of local artists who were asked to create pieces pertaining to the theme.
The students then got to meet the artist of each piece and ask them questions about their art.
“It’s important that kids meet and experience working artists,” Cleckler said. “When it comes to engaging and educating kids in art, you have to catch them early and get them interested.”
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Cleckler said she intentionally tried to make every activity the students did hands-on, from playing Aboriginal games to making their own art work.
When asked why exposure to the arts is important for young people, Cleckler said it’s important for them to find out if they are truly interested in it, before the cynicism sometimes held toward art can be introduced.
“You have to decide what you’re willing to do till you retire," she said. "Do what you love. You might as well, since you’ll be doing it a while.”
The Jan Dempsey Community Art Center has been hosting the Adventures in Art program for the past 16 years and also hosts a wide range of community events. Swing dancing, dances, theatre expositions and plays are also constant staples on the art center's event calendar.
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