Washtenaw County Hosts Many Options to get Kids Involved in Art

. May 29, 2016.

Like languages, picking up art is much easier at a young age. Ann Arbor has more than its fair share of art programs for youngsters whose parents recognize the latent genius lurking within their progeny, yearning, pleading to get out. Today’s strictly modern mommy and daddy are faced with an embarrassment of riches, kiddy artwise, and the difficult question is not if but which. Below is a sampling from the smörgasbord of youth art instruction in our beloved, beyuppied city.


Young Rembrandts

Locations vary | 708-203-3468 

Young Rembrandts: The Power of Drawing is a disciplined after-school art enrichment program, based on the idea that drawing is the fundamental skill that is a basis of all other visual arts. Readers of my ArtBeat column in Current magazine know that I agree. It is a curriculum that thinks in terms of left and right brain functions and the coordination of the two. I also happen to think this is a highly effective approach, and if you want to learn to draw on your own Betty Dodson’s Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and Drawing on the Artist Within are your best bets. YR contends that drawing is a fundamental critical thinking base that all children should learn in order to have a fulfilling and complete education in today’s innovative-minded society. That may or may not be true for every child, but it is certainly better than the mental manure pile of television and video games. The YR curriculum was developed by educators, graphic designers, animators, computer illustrators and fine artists and has arrived at its own core drawing technique. It is designed to complement and enhance school art programs and prepare students to exceed the National Standard of Art Education. Above all, YR teaches kids how to see. That means how to see what is actually there, not what our preconceptions tell us should be there.  That’s what Zen, meditation and psychotherapy try to do, too. 

Ann Arbor Art Center

117 W. Liberty St. | 734-994-8004

We start where all art starts in Ann Arbor, with the Ann Arbor Art Center. The Art Center’s youth programs are ambitious and welcoming. Art camps are offered during school breaks in winter, spring and summer. Kids experiment with different art media and are encouraged to enjoy art, laying a foundation for continued art study as they mature. No two camps are alike but they are generally divided among “creativity camps” and “clay camps.” The creativity camps work in several 2D and 3D media. The clay camps teach pottery skills, ceramic design and sculpture. Mornings include wheel throwing, afternoons get into alternative clay technique. In addition to camps, the center offers classes and workshops for kids as young as three and as old as 17, taught by experienced instructors with Master of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts or art education degrees. In addition to traditional art media, the youngsters will be instructed in digital computer technology and animation. Scholarships are available and there are free, drop-in events and art parties for groups of eight or more.

FLY Children’s Art Center

40 N. Huron St. | Ypsilanti
734-217-2228 | flyartcenter.org

The FLY Center on Huron, two doors down from the Riverside Arts Center in downtown Ypsilanti, has an ambitious series of spring and summer classes for kids, kindergarten through grade five.  Each class lasts five weekdays, half days or whole days. Classes include “guerilla” printmaking, a mural project (which will be displayed at the Riverside Center), puppets, water creatures (using maps and microscopes), figure drawing, CSI forensics (human anatomy), Dr. Seuss, geometry, shadows (chiaroscuro), and then we’re just about ready to start school again in the fall.

Yourist Studio Gallery

1133 Broadway St. | 734-662-4914 

The Yourist Studio Gallery,  a longtime leading clay workshop near North Campus, offers special birthday experiences for kids, 6-12 years old. Kids will be provided with instruction, materials and glazing and firing of one pot each. The kids will then have the perfect gift for their parents to display with pride forever.