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UMPI hosts Visual Arts Day for local middle schoolers

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Middle school students from Van Buren to Houlton visited the University of Maine at Presque Isle recently for a day filled with learning about everything from drawing and clay to printmaking and sculpture. The event, Visual Arts Day, was organized by UMPI's Art Education program for Aroostook Regional Gifted and Talented [ARGT].

Students spent the day Dec. 9 on campus taking part in hands-on art workshops in the Pullen Hall Art Room and the ceramics lab, located in Wieden Hall. Students additionally had the opportunity to further experience the campus environment, enjoying lunch in the University's dining hall.

According to event organizer Leo-Paul Cyr, Associate Professor of Art Education, the day included a drawing workshop by UMPI Assistant Professor of Art Heather Sincavage, a clay workshop by UMPI Assistant Professor of Art Hyrum Benson, a sculpture workshop with UMPI Art student Leah McEachern, and a printmaking workshop with UMPI Art student Corey Levesque.

In Sincavage's drawing workshop, students explored pattern and design, creating a self-portrait layered into a collage of found papers. The works were embellished with markers, colored pencils and specialized paint markers to be reflective of each artist's personality. In Benson's clay workshop, students explored clay making through various techniques and ultimately created a functioning clay whistle.

In McEachern's sculpture workshop, students sculpted chicken wire into unique shapes and wove colored papers through their creations to design glamorous hats. In Levesque's printmaking workshop, students worked with stencils and patterns to create wallpaper-like designs inspired by insects and animals. They used pencils, markers and paint to create positive/negative reversal creatures.

"Visual Arts Day provides our students with an opportunity to go further than they would in a regular class, and work with kids from other towns who are like them," said Edith Greiner, an art teacher at Fort Fairfield Elementary School and Fort Fairfield Middle/High School who was on campus with her ARGT students for the event. "It's also an opportunity for them to see the facilities here, and work with UMPI's Art Education program."

She said the event also provides a unique pre-service opportunity for students in UMPI's Art Education program, and just might encourage local kids to look further into fine art.

"We hope that students will remember UMPI when they're thinking about going to college and know that the University has a great art facility close to home," she said.