Snakes made from clay have been a theme for 9-year-old Joel Huttinger during this week's Art in the Park program at Hawthorn Park.
On Tuesday, a snake climbed a stick that Joel plans to paint brown to look like a tree. On Monday, he had used a pinching technique to make a clay bowl — and then wrapped a snake around it.
His twin brother Spencer was making a totem pole Tuesday.
At another picnic table in the park's Burkebyle shelter, Kristy Fisher sat with her four children as they created creatures from clay.
“It's so good for the brain to get to do fun things like this,” said Fisher, a preschool teacher who knows the importance of fine motor skills for young children. She helped her 4-year-old daughter Neala make a bug.
Bowen Fisher, 6, enjoyed making a gecko to put into a bowl he made Monday, and brother Keegan, 8, was working on a bug.
Older sister McKinley, 10, used three hand techniques – pinching for the base, carving to make texture, and coiling – as she worked on her project.
“I get to do a lot of art, and it's longer than my art class in my school,” she said of her enjoyment of the art program.
The Fisher family has attended the Swope Museum's summer art sessions for several years. McKinley said she still has the plush monster she sewed last year as a project.
With COVID-19 causing a disruption in many summer activities, the Swope staff decided to rework its summer experience for children by moving to the rural park setting.
Fisher said she appreciated the social distancing, and being in the park this summer is a nice location change for the program, which usually occurs at the Swope.
“I feel comfortable here,” Fisher said. “I actually like it better than going downtown because I don't have to worry about parking.”
In the cool shade of the shelter, about a dozen children worked on their individual projects.
Mallory Eilbracht coordinated the Swope's Summer Art Studio program, which offers art classes built to encourage creativity and new skills for children.
Spots are still open for the next two weeks of classes for artists ages 6 to 18, she said.
The Build-a-Plushie class is offered from 9 to 11 a.m. the week of July 13-17. The class is taught by artist and art educator Shayla Fish. Students will design their own characters and then learn how to make them into a plush toy.
The third class is Mixed Media Masterpieces, July 20-24, with artist and art educator Lacey Lewis.
“We decided to offer three classes this year and hold them at Hawthorn Park in a large shelter [where] we can safely distance the artists,” said Hilda Andres, Swope's director of community engagement. “Each artist will have their own bag with art supplies that they can use and then take home with them.”
For more information and to register, go to www.swope.org/learn/summer-art-studio/.
Thanks to financial support from donors and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, financial aid is available to cover the cost of the class. The financial aid application form is available at https://bit.ly/3gyB4va.
Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.