When Indianapolis Public Schools introduced their balanced calendar in 2011, working parents faced a special challenge: finding interesting – and affordable - things for their children to do while school was out of session. The school system, like many charters and townships schools, provides remediation and a limited number of enrichment activities during breaks. Still, many families struggle to find something positive for kids to do while parents are at work.
|Children at the Indy MOCA camp kept journals, to record inspirations and thoughts, which were often used in creating their own art.|
|Campers took advantage of the surprisingly wintry Spring Break weather to explore colors.|
In 2013, parents on the near south side had a new option – a special art camp at Garfield Park run by the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (iMOCA). Over the two-week spring break, Indy MOCA set up shop in Garfield Park’s Art Center, offering kids from local IPS and charter schools the chance to make their own art. Through two week-long sessions, campers were busy, from creating their own stop-motion animation to working alongside visiting local artists.
A Camp for Creating
In one of the iMOCA camps, which were supported in part by an operational grant from The Indianapolis Foundation, the children wrestled with a short but complex question: What is it?! By exploring everything from Andy Warhol’s pop art to cartoons on PeeWee’s Playhouse, the kids had the chance to think about the question and to create art that reflected their answers.
“These children are so interesting, with great things to say and an interesting perspective,” says Shauta Marsh, iMOCA’s Director.
The group’s goal was to make art accessible for the diverse children at camp. In the second week of camp, five local artists visited and co-created art with the campers. One visiting artist, John Clark, helped the kids explore collage and surrealism. Artists from Big Car and Know No Stranger offered campers the chance to explore community-based and performance-focused approaches to art.
Though they explored a range of contemporary art approaches, the staff made sure that the kids had a chance to have a good time while they got creative.
“It was important to make this camp accessible – and fun,” says Marsh. “So, we follow their lead. When they get bored, we switch it up.”
Ultimately, the camp allows iMOCA the chance to achieve a key part of their vision – to be a community asset that sparks conversation between artists and community.
Marsh also sees iMOCA as helping to forge connections between the larger contemporary art world and Indianapolis. The museum has chosen to focus on non-native artists, those who can bring new energy and ideas to the cultural life of central Indiana. One of their 2012 exhibits featured LaToya Ruby Frazier, an artist whose photographs of her rustbelt hometown recently received positive attention from the New York Times.
“We’re open to creating a conversation with artists from other places,” says Marsh. “That’s what we want to contribute - offering different experiences and perspectives to our city, to artists, to kids, to everyone.”
Read more about the impact of CICF's grants.
Photos courtesy of iMOCA, used with permission.