A group of Chester County elementary school children are enhancing their art education this semester in an after-school art class at Freed-Hardeman University. Twenty-one children are participating in the class Thursday afternoons until the end of November.
Students will be introduced to the works of Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Jackson Pollock and Salvador Dali through various activities. They will make mosaics, draw horses, paint with emotion and music and learn about warm and cool colors.
Dr. Barbara England, chairman of the FHU fine arts department, directs the class. She is assisted by FHU students enrolled in Art for Children. She has now taught the class for more than two decades.
“When I came here to teach 23 years ago, I was told that Hank McDaniel (who had actually been the department chair when I was hired in August) had always dreamed of having an after school fine arts opportunity for children in Chester County,” England said. “Hank died that October. I started doing this class that fall thinking, this is for Hank, who couldn't be on campus to see it, but who I hoped would have been happy seeing it happen.”
England traces her own interest in art to a Saturday art camp at the University of Memphis when she was 9 years old. “I still remember how awesome it felt to be on a ‘college campus’ making art. It was something that probably began an awareness in me of how important art was and helped give me confidence to pursue art in high school and college,” she said.
“I always hoped that what I did in After School Art would have a positive influence on one of my university students. Perhaps one them would become an art teacher, or take one of the projects we did in class and do it in their classroom, or take the lessons they put together in a curriculum guide they had done in the class and use it as a basis for a lesson in their classroom,” England said. That hope has come to fruition.
Her daughter Katy England Maxwell teaches at Isaac Lane Technology Elementary School in Jackson. She and Becky Thompson Hartle participated in the program as elementary school students, then assisted with the summer art camp. Hartle teaches fine arts in Chester County.
“Seeing what Becky has done in Chester County schools makes me proud,” England said. “She participated in After School Art as a third grader and when she worked with me in the summer camps, she was in high school.”
Watching her daughter work with underprivileged children in Jackson “has been a proud Momma moment,” she said. “Katie approaches it as her mission to bring something beautiful into the lives of children who go home hungry, to violent neighborhoods, and don't have many opportunities to see beauty. She was talking about Monet's gardens last week and one little girl said she had never seen a flower garden. Maybe through the art of Monet, she will see flowers...”
The free art for children class is typically taught in the fall semester. Parents who would like their children to share in this experience should contact Beth Sanford at FHU (email@example.com) next August for details. Registration is first come, first served and space is limited, England said.
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