Arts Program at Mateel SPARCs Emerging Talent

Twenty-six students were busy at the Mateel Community Center creating music and collage last Tuesday. They are learning art through the SPARC (Spring Arts Collective) program that meets Tuesdays and Thursdays after school throughout March and April.

Cathryn Guillette and Laci Dane Coelho are the teachers of the program that is in its fifth year of providing well-rounded exposure to art to youth ages 11 to 17.

The students said they liked the variety offered by the program.

“I think it’s awesome that they can do art and music in one building,” commented Beaudry Kathleen Varner, a sixth-grader at Redway School.

Shiri Pike, another sixth-grader at Redway, said she likes to do painting and wants to do more. She is learning flute and knows a little bit of piano.

Evrett Paula, age 12, and a student at Redway, said he likes music and art. “It’s really fun. I play the guitar,” he said. He added that sometimes he likes to paint.

“I like the art and music because it goes at a good pace, and it shows you new stuff that you wouldn’t learn at a normal art and music school,” said John Gamble, a seventh-grader at Miranda Junior High.

“The goal of our program this year is to involve the kids in two real world projects — one in the music direction and one in the art direction,” Guillette explained. “The one in the music direction, actually we have three things we want to play at, one at the middle, one at the end, and one at the Summer Arts Fair for the kids in this program to actually get up and perform for their parents and friends. Last year we played at the Summer Arts and Music Fair which was a really fun and empowering thing for the kids.”

Guillette said that for the visual art section, the plan is for a collage art installation at the hearth of the Mateel Community Center.

“It’s a collective project of the Statue of Liberty where the kids are asked what are their ideas of freedom and to try to put some of those images about how they feel about freedom and their country on the Statue of Liberty and then after they make a collage, then they’re going to make a painting of the collage,” she said. The painting will be up on the hearth for the Artists of the Emerald Coast show that happens at the end of April.

“Perhaps if the [Mateel Community Center] board likes it, it will become a permanent installation,” Guillette added. She explained the students will learn about presentation for approval of an art project in the phase of the process that will determine if the work will remain by the hearth after the show.

Coelho is leading the collage art installation project. “For our first project we started with tearing images out of magazines and collecting images they really liked and collaging them together. Then they’re going to transpose those images on to canvas, draw them on with the grid method, and then paint them,” Coelho explained as the kids were choosing and compiling images from periodicals.

Guillette said there were four interns assisting with the program. She said each would get a small stipend for their commitment to help with various aspects and stay all the way to the end of the program.

The interns are Zechariah Gravander, Serenity Wood, and Sabina Reed, who are all homeschoolers; and Gardner Boyce, a student of the Academy of the Redwoods. They are all 14 years old.

“And they’re getting real world experience. It’s like kind of their first job, and in the field of art and music,” she said.