Arts Clayton's camps reach mid-way point

There are probably not too many times when sewage and art can be brought together. But, brought together they were on Friday, at Arts Clayton's annual Kaleidoscope Summer Arts Camp and Young Teen Camp, at J.W. Arnold Elementary School, in Jonesboro.

The two-week-long camps concluded their first week with a visit from Clayton County Water Authority representatives, who talked to the students about Clayton County's water quality, and what they do to clean sewers. The presentation was part of a tie-in to this year's environmental theme for both camps.

The sewage talk is layered on top of arts activities the youths are doing in camp. Those activities include making artwork out of what were arguably actress Joan Crawford's worst enemies — wire hangers — and turning shredded plastic grocery bags into fashion-accessory items.

"We try to dovetail in some of our community organizations, and make sure there is a community tie-in to the camp," said Camp Director Joanne Maples.

The 96 local youths participating in the arts camps this year will wrap up their annual experience with a free-to-attend "Save the Earth" inspired musical performance and art show, on June 17, at 6 p.m., at Arnold Elementary School, located at 216 Stockbridge Road, in Jonesboro.

Maples said the musical will be titled "Update Earth: Kids Rock the World for the Environment."

As part of the environmental theme of this year's camps, children in many of the visual arts classes are using recycled materials, such as used cereal and candy boxes, wire hangers, magazines, plastic bags and newspapers.

"We wanted to include art that fits in with the theme of the camp," Maples said. "They're taking objects they find in their homes, and recycling them into art."

In one class, called "Fiber Fashion," youngsters have been making fashion items out of everyday household products they have found in their homes. One student took an empty box of "Red Hots" candy, had parts of it laminated her camp instructor, and turned it into a small purse. Other students have been learning the practice of making "plarn," which is essentially yarn made out of strips of plastic bags.

So far, one student has figured out how to weave "plarn" into a drink cozie.

"Just about anything can be used," said "Fiber Fashion" Instructor Mygnon Walters.

While the first week of the camps included visits from the Clayton County Water Authority, the Clayton County Police Department, Fire Department and Sheriff's Office, and an artist from the Woodruff Arts Center, Camp Coordinator Elizabeth Gower said the second week will focus on highlighting the work the campers have done so far.

"Next week, it will be in-house," she said. "We will be honoring some of the work that's already been done."

As the first week of camp came to a close, several campers said they had discovered new artistic interests. "I really love art," said Morrow youth, Jordan Satterfield, 9, during her drawing class. "Now, I really like drawing. I like drawing the rainforest, and jungles, and trees a lot."

Hampton's Aubree Wimberly, 8, said she liked going to her painting class every day. "It's fun," she said, while trying to keep her attention focused on practicing the pointillism style of painting with a Q-Tip. "You get to paint a lot."

Riverdale youth, Ayanna Mays, 10, said she also enjoyed the painting class because "I like doing water colors."

Jayiah Brown, 9, of Atlanta, said she enjoyed her dancing class, because "we've almost learned all of the moves" for the end-of-camp musical.

First-time camper, Brandon Shorter, 10, of Hampton, was so enthusiastic about his participation in the camp that, when he was asked if he already wanted to sign up for the camp again next year, he quickly responded, "Oh, you know it."

The only thing is that with a different theme at the camp each year, there probably won't be an environmental emphasis, next year, to tie the art to sewage.