Professional Artists Cultivate Young Imaginations
Article Michelle Guerrero Photography Provided
Imaginations fly free as little hands, many new to art, dip brushes into cups filled with colorful paint. The kids carefully apply the colors to the pottery pieces they designed and sculpted, under the tutelage of a professional artist at the Vision Gallery’s Vision Kidz Program in Chandler. Kids go home with a piece of art, a better understanding of the creative process and hopefully, pride in a job well done.
The Vision Kidz program offers art classes, in a variety of mediums such as pottery, quilting, painting, sculpting and movie making, to children in metropolitan Phoenix. All workshops are taught by professional artists and are offered at no cost to families. The gallery itself is a non-profit organization, managed by the Chandler Cultural Foundation, and a portion of all their art sales are used to fund the kid’s program.
“If you’ve ever driven down Arizona Avenue and noticed the artwork in the light boxes at the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) stations you are seeing the talents of our Vision Kidz participants,” says Yvonne Villareal-Torres, the Visual Arts Assistant for the Vision Gallery and the coordinator for the Vision Kidz Program.
The children also have the opportunity to display their work at the Vision Gallery, the Chandler Center for the Arts and other public event and exhibitions, including locations such as the Chandler libraries and Chandler Fashion Square.
“I feel a tremendous reward in my participation in bringing the Vision Kidz program to our community,” says Villareal-Torres. “Art has a way of impacting our lives. It helps children develop creatively, it aids in the development of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects and helps with creative problem solving. The benefits of art go beyond our classroom, extending into our community.”
Villareal-Torres, who has been with the gallery since 2009, intimately understands the benefits of art and the creative process. She too is an artist, who works in a variety of mediums, and exhibits her work throughout the southwest region. She began her journey with the Vision Gallery assisting, teaching and helping to coordinate the kids program.
“The program was developed with the intent for it to provide arts curriculum that is above mere craft, taught by working professional artists and provided free of charge to our community,” says Villareal-Torres.
They reach more than 2,000 kids annually, between workshops and community events. Classes take place at the gallery on Saturdays and are available to children between the ages of 6 to 16. Parents must pre-register their children and can sign them up for three workshops at a time.
“In the past we have had program participants return after completing their education and becoming professional artists. We have also had a student who participated in the workshops during her elementary years, return to exhibit with us. We are happy to provide her with an opportunity to market her artwork,” says Villareal-Torres.
The gallery accepts submissions in January and June, and sends out calls for artists for specific exhibits. Artists are encouraged to submit exhibition ideas as well as individual artworks.
“The Vision Gallery is a great space to see local Arizona artists. Our exhibits are on a rotational basis so there is always something new and intriguing to see,” says Villareal-Torres.
In an email sent by Villareal-Torres, she had a great quote scrolled across the bottom, by Scott Adams, a well-known cartoonist: “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” There are many life lessons to be learned through art, and thanks to Vision Kidz Program, children have the opportunity to shape their creativity and watch their ideas come to fruition.
The gallery is open Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Their exhibit schedule, along with more information about the gallery and Vision Kidz Program, can be found on their website at VisionGallery.org.
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