My love for art started at a very young age and it was a direct result of having access to opportunities and spaces to create art. When I was in the first grade, I drew a family portrait in art class. I blew watery purple ink through a straw which made a bubbly background of concentric circles, on top of which I used black sharpie to draw my family members with long wavy arms surrounding each other in a wide embrace. My art teacher decided to enter my family portrait into a state-wide competition, where it won first place for my age bracket and was showcased in an art exhibit! My family was so proud, and I was forever known as the “artistic one” in our family. I was hooked on art!
I spent several weeks of every summer when I was a kid in a place called Hidden Talent, a tiny ceramics shop tucked away in a shopping mall near my grandmother’s house. You could buy a bisque-fired ceramic piece and they had free acrylic paints set up on tables in the center of the store where you could paint the ceramics. I would stay there all day and get lost in the painting; six hours seemed like one hour in my Hidden Talent world. They had summer camps where I learned several different painting techniques and many fond memories that I still carry with me to this day.
These experiences gave me so much more than just painting or drawing techniques. They gave me self-confidence, self-understanding, creativity, joy, escape, and connection with my family and community. I also had a very well-rounded exposure to all sorts of art growing up – I participated in the school musical every year, played leading roles in elementary school plays, sang in the church choir, participated in the church bell choir, and played the saxophone in middle school band. For a shy kid like me, music and the arts taught me so many valuable skills.
Unfortunately, defunding arts education has been happening more and more over the years. The school district I attended near Austin cut the theater arts programming for elementary schools. They no longer have elementary music and theater arts classes or annual musicals and plays. This reflects an overarching trend of defunding education, especially art education, in the United States.
This brings me to what is happening at Winnsboro Center for the Arts (WCA) this April. We are participating in East Texas Giving Day (ETGD) on April 27, an online 18-hour day of giving organized by East Texas Communities Foundation to provide critical funding for nonprofits in our area. You can visit www.easttexasgivingday.org/WCA to donate and help us reach our goal of raising $12,500. Prescheduled giving starts April 5th, and ETGD opens at 6:00 am on April 27th and runs until midnight. You can also support us by liking us on Facebook @wcatexas. Any amount you choose to give is greatly appreciated.
This year your donations through ETGD will go towards funding the several summer art and theater camps we have planned for June and July 2021. Qualified art and theater instructors, art supplies and equipment, and scholarships are all key aspects of a successful camp. This year, art camps will include exposure to ceramics as the youth take advantage of our new ceramics studio.
If you have children or grandchildren between the ages of 6 and 17, we hope that you will sign them up for one of our summer camps! And we encourage everyone to help provide life-changing artistic experiences for our youth by participating in East Texas Giving Day on April 27th by going to www.easttexasgivingday.org/WCA to donate!