BEE the Change

970172_10151941566901324_7809360038521488933_nIn honor of Earth Week, ACA teamed up with Arlington’s Whole Foods to talk about the health of our earth, natural processes, like pollination and how we can help.  Together, we came up with the art installation, Bee the Change, which is on view at the Arlington Whole Foods on Mass Ave.



During our week long Vacation Arts Camp in April, our team of campers and staff made bees from recycled materials.  We used paper tubes, posters and old advertisements donated by Whole Foods.  We also reused their banners and painted signs to to display in the store.



IMG_2606All totaled, our campers made over 150 bees of all sizes and designs. Different age groups of kids contributed different aspects of the project, from cutting out the wings to drawing the faces.   The project was overseen and organized by our Counselors in Training, who helped install the artwork at Whole Foods.

The result is a beautiful swarm of friendly bees hanging over the café at the Mass Ave Whole Foods!  Be sure to check them out next time you are in the area!

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“Beatle Mania” comes to Arts Camp

Pop Art Project, "Beatle Mania" week at ACA Arts Camp

Pop Art project for “Beatle Mania” week at ACA Arts Camp

It may be more than 50 years since John, Paul, George and Ringo burst onto the music scene, but the FAB FOUR still inspired lots of happy enthusiasm at ACA’s arts camp last week!

All week long, campers made art inspired by the 1960s, learning a bit about famous artists Andy Worhol, Claes Oldenburg and Jackson Pollack along the way.  In music and drama, we learned a bunch of Beatles songs and put together our own original all-camp musical featuring 5 Beatles songs.

On Wednesday, we had a special guest performance by the Beatles Ensemble from the Winchester Community Music School, led by our music teacher for the week, Tad Hitchcock.

Here’s a video “Yellow Submarine,” with the kids singing along on the chorus, and some great dancing at the end:

And here are a few other highlights and impressions of our week:

Campers created soft sculptures of musical instruments, inspired by the work of sculptor Claes Oldenburg.

Campers created soft sculptures of musical instruments, inspired by the work of sculptor Claes Oldenburg.

Our littlest campers, in the "Young at Art" group, created charming and colorful hand print pop art paintings.

Our littlest campers, in the “Young at Art” group, created charming and colorful hand print pop art paintings.

Counselors in Training created art inspired by music, including this great response to the Beatles' song "Let it Be"

Counselors in Training created art inspired by music, including this great response to the Beatles’ song “Let it Be”

The CITs took a field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - what a great group!

The CITs took a field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston – what a great group!

CITs took their field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - what a nice group!!

It was a timely visit to the MFA – CITs checked out the new “Hippie Chic” exhibit about the 1960s fashion revolution.

Want to see more “Beatle Mania”?

CIT Slideshow – artwork, field trip & more
Arts Camp Slideshow – art, music, drama & more

Images of Arlington 5th grade artists honored at the State House

Kids Images of Arlington at the State House (20)This summer, anyone visiting Senator Ken Donnelly’s office at the Massachusetts State House will be treated to an exhibit of 30+ works of art by Arlington 5th graders, part of the Arlington Center for the Arts’ annual “Kids Images of Arlington” exhibit, now in its 8th year.

Each year, all 400+ 5th graders in the Arlington public schools create artwork depicting something unique about the town.  The artwork is displayed in a massive exhibit that fills all three floors of the Arlington Center for the Arts building.

A small subset of the students’ artwork is selected to go on display at the State House in Senator Donnelly’s offices.

Last week, the Senator hosted the students in a special reception in their honor, and took the kids on a private tour of the State House.

Several of the 5th grade "Images of Arlington" artists posing with Senator Ken Donnelly in a special reception in their honor.

Several of the 5th grade “Images of Arlington” artists posing with Senator Ken Donnelly in a special reception in their honor.

Donnelly loves the tradition – whenever he has visitors to his offices – other Senators and Representatives, or constituents from his district, he says he loves showing off the artwork, which depicts so many landmarks and special places in Arlington.

The kids had a special private tour of the State House, including this visit to the Senate chambers, where they learned a secret about what many Senators keep in their desk drawers.. (think chocolate...!)

The kids had a special private tour of the State House, including this visit to the Senate chambers, where they learned a secret about what many Senators keep in their desk drawers.. (think chocolate…!)

The President of Peru happened to be visiting the State House that afternoon.  We saw his motorcade drive by from this beautiful vantage point overlooking the front lawn!

The President of Peru happened to be visiting the State House that afternoon. We saw his motorcade drive by from this beautiful vantage point overlooking the front lawn!

Thank you Senator Donnelly for honoring our young artists and for your support for the arts and culture in our communities!

Thank you Senator Donnelly for honoring our young artists and for your support for the arts and culture in our communities!


See more of the “Kids Images of Arlington” artwork in our online slideshow…

Video Blog: Recycled & Altered Books

You’ll never believe what you can do with old books!
Diem Dangers will lead you on an amazing journey, transforming old books into stunningly beautiful and meaningful visual journals…

Next offered:
“Recycled Books” with Diem Dangers
Fall, 2012:  4 Tuesdays, 3:00-4:30pm, ages 11-16
You can register online
or call the Arlington Center for the Arts (781) 648-6220

Kids’ “Images of Arlington” exhibit on display at the Mass State House

Senator Ken Donnelly loves Arlington – he grew up here, raised his children here, and now represents the town in the Massachusetts Senate.

Senator Ken Donnelly with one of the “Images of Arlington” Artists

So when Senator Donnelly and his staffers heard about ACA’s annual Kids’ Images of Arlington exhibit featuring artwork by all the town’s 5th graders, they wanted to help get the artwork seen – and for the second year in a row, highlights of the exhibit are now on view in the Senator’s offices at the State House, and will remain on display through the end of the summer.

At the State House reception for the Images of Arlington artists and their families, hosted by Senator Ken Donnelly, with special guests Sean Garballey and Jay Kaufman.

At a special reception for the young artists last month, Donnelly thanked the students for sharing their artwork, saying the drawings and paintings of the town help show people all the special things about Arlington, and help him convey the spirit of the Arlington community.

Visiting the Senate Chambers on the State House tour with Senator Donnelly

Before the reception, Senator Donnelly took the students and their families on a private tour of the State House, where we also met up with Arlington Representatives Sean Garballey and Jay Kaufman.  We even had a quick greeting from Governor Deval Patrick, which was a special and unexpected treat! 

ACA bling for the Senator! ACA Communications Director Linda Shoemaker, and Executive Director John Budzyna with gifts from the Arlington Center for the Arts.

Want to see more?

More photos from the State House Tour & Reception

Photos of the Award-winning artwork and Gallery Opening in April 2012

Blog Story about the Exhibit

“Wizzards of Their Own Futures” – ACA’s littlest campers get magical at arts camp for pre-schoolers

Cute Alert…!  Art teacher and guest blogger Diem Dangers gives us a peek into the “Young at Art” room during Magic Week at ACA Summer Arts Camp.  Our littlest campers (ages 4-5) had a blast making magic hats, crystal balls, and thinking all about magic!

Diem Dangers (standing) leads the Young at Art pre-K camper in a magical week of art-making and creative fun!

Crystal Ball Project
The purpose of the crystal ball project was to allow the students to think about how to express the future visually. Over

Story Time during Young at Art – firing up the campers’ imaginations with tales of wizards and magic!

the course of the week, we read about magic and wizardry in a variety of storybooks such as: Anton Does Magic, The Magic Raincoat, The Magic Toolbox, Word Wizard, The Magic Babushka, The Dream Jar, Possum Magic, and The Wizard. We also sang “Down By the Castle” (an adaptation of “Down By the Sea” with lyrics that related to the magic theme of this week’s class) with Alex Fenn, our music teacher. We used these stories and songs to inspire conversations about what magic means, what crystal balls are and how they can reveal the future. The students were then asked to create their own crystal ball that would show what would happen in their future.

A magic crystal ball in the making…

It was a fun open-ended exploratory project, giving the little artists plenty of fun textures to play around with and discover including: glitter, felt, construction paper, pipe cleaners, paint, fuzzy woolen balls, crayons, paint, and cut-out photos from magazines for collage. As the week progressed, we also explored adding little pop-out windows to add extra depth and new dimensions to the piece. The students used these little pop-out windows to create entryways to secret passages to the future, and to cover up secret hidden treasures.

I loved how each student produced something totally unique, each interpreting the assignment in their own special way.

Young at Art campers in action, working on their Crystal Ball projects.

Some did landscapes of the future, others did visual stories of their daily lives in the future and their expected careers, others captured futuristic people they would meet. Some did a complex collage of various people, places and objects capturing various different people, times and spaces into one whole. Some kept within the confines of the “crystal ball”, others chose to “think outside the box” allowing their imaginations to wonder all over the page. I was surprised and impressed by such creative, unusual and unexpected arrangements of colors, objects and textures! They certainly have my enthusiastic support for this kind of exploration! After all, the value of creating art comes from what they learn through the exploratory process as much as it does making an end product.

During music time with music teacher Alex Fenn, the kids sang songs about magic, and made some special musical magic of their own, playing with percussion instruments

As an art teacher, I see myself as someone who creates conditions that inspires students to come up with their own ideas for making art that has meaning for them.  I like art projects that stimulate student’s imaginations, encouraging them to think independently for themselves about what they are creating and expressing. For me, children’s art is as valuable in and of itself, and is not to be compared to adult art or considered of lesser developmental quality.


One young camper with his finished Crystal Ball project

At the end of the week, students had the opportunity to share their crystal balls with the rest of the class. I see my students as fellow artists, and take them seriously when they describe their pieces and what they are expressing. I was so impressed by the students’ willingness to explain what their art meant to them, ask questions of others, and engage in conversation with each other. In the process of participating in this activity, they had the opportunity to define what their art meant to them. They were understanding of how different colors, textures and shapes can be used to visually represent the future.

Here is a short video of Emil describing his crystal ball and answering classmates’ questions about it.

Wizard Hats.

Towards the end of the week, we made wizard hats covered in traditional stars and moons and other creative designs. The wizard hats gave the whole Show-and-Tell activity a theatrical feel and added to the magic of the crystal balls. The little artists presented their piece not just as themselves, but as themselves as wizards of their own futures!

Show and Tell time, when each camper presented their crystal ball project, with everyone wearing their magic hats!


More Photos!
See more photos from our week, in our online slideshow.

More info:
for more information about ACA’s Young at Art program, visit our website.

Kids Remembering the Thompson School through Art

Last week, we shared some great moments from the Kids Images of Arlington (IOA) 5th grade art exhibit and opening reception awards ceremony.  Today, I want to share a small subset of images with a big story to tell.

Each year, Arlington’s 5th graders are asked to choose something they think is special or important about Arlington, and then to create a piece of art depicting their own special piece of A-Town.   The children’s artwork is always a wonderful, colorful, exuberant, and sometimes poignant look at the town through the eyes of our kids.

This year, a number of students in the Thompson School district chose to pay tribute to Thompson in their artwork, creating a moving mini-exhibit that marks the end of an era in Arlington.  When the town made the decision to rebuild Thompson, this group of 5th graders were moved to the Bishop School, where they will graduate this spring.  But for many, their hearts are still at Thompson.

Pamina Mejia, “Thompson School.” Pamina says, “Thompson was torn down and I wanted to honor Thompson School in a Special Way.”

Max Fritsch, “Torn Down Thompson.” In his artist statement, Max wrote, “I used to go to Thompson. When I heard it was getting torn down, I grew very sad.”

Nicholas Laroche, “Thompson School.” “Thompson was my old school,” says Nicholas, “and it means a lot to me because I never got to graduate from Thompson.”

Eleanor Leto, “My Side of the Story.” Eleanor says, “I chose this subject because the Thompson School is where I grew up. I have learned to love this school, so I thought I should draw it.”

Ethan Moore, The Awesome Wall of Ye Old Thompson.

Eva Mir, Bus Stop. While not technically a Thompson tribute, Eva captured another change in the neighborhood, saying, “The Bus Stop just started this year.”

Grace Hogan, “Our Beloved Thompson.” “I chose Thompson Elementary because it was my first school before I came to Bishop,” says Grace. “I will never forget anybody who I met there and became good friends with. When Thompson’s rebuilt, I will miss it a lot, but I will be glad they could rebuild it.”

Where the Thompson School once stood, there is now a flat expanse of land waiting for construction to begin.  I haven’t seen plans for the new design, but thanks to these young artists, we’ll always remember the “Old Thompson” and what it meant to its last group of students.

Now in its 7th year, the Kids Images of Arlington Exhibit is a collaboration between the Arlington Center for the Arts and the Fine Arts Department of the Arlington Public Schools.  For more information about the program, please visit our website.

A Kids-Eye View of A-Town

What does Arlington look like through the eyes of our kids?

How about the Robbins Library done up with red spots, glowing blue/green windows, and a purple polka dot sky?  How about the Capitol Theater done up in 1930’s art deco style?  Or the view looking up into the towering slides at Robbins Farm Park, the colorful shops lined up along Mass Ave in Capitol Square, plus Uncle Sam as you’ve never seen him before…?!

Stratton School 5th grader Neeraja Deshpande with her painting, “Abstract Robbins.” In her artist statement Neeraja gives insight into her creative process, saying, “My picture was actually watercolor and it looked somewhat realistic, but then I got bored of the bland colors and decided to discolor it. I really love the library because it has such a wide selection of books and I love reading.”

Those are just a few of the 400+ visions and views of our town by Arlington 5th graders, now on display in the 7th annual “Kids Images of Arlington” exhibit, a collaboration between ACA and the Arlington public schools.

Hardy School 5th grader Georgia Terry with her painting, “Mass Ave.” In her artist statement Georgia says, “I chose Mass Ave because it is one of the busiest places in Arlington. You can do many things on Mass Ave, from watching movies to doing art projects, Mass Ave is such a fun place!”

From the 400+ entries in the show, ACA jurors selected one Award of Excellence and several honorable mentions from each 5th grade class.

The exhibit is on display at the Arlington Center for the Arts through May 18.  Please stop in!

Dallin School 5th Grader Abi Hodgdon with her piece, “The Slides.” “I chose to do the slides at Skyline Park,” Abi says, “because they were always my favorite place to go when I was younger. Images of Arlington was an excuse to visit them again for me. The angle I drew it from was how I always looked at it, starting from the bottom and looking up to the top.”

Award winners from the Stratton School at the Images of Arlington Opening Reception and Awards ceremony on April 5, 2012. Congratulations, all!

See the complete photo set from the Opening Reception, plus photos of all the Award-winning artwork on ACA’s Flickr Page!

Learning Graffiti — Without Destroying Property

Officer Smith of the Arlington Police showing students works of graffiti around Arlington.

Officer Smith of the Arlington Police made a visit to the Urban Arts & Graffiti class here at ACA – catching them in the act of graffiti making. As students were practicing their graffiti work in the ACA bathroom, Officer Smith stepped in just in time to give the kids a slight shock, where he told them how what they were partaking in was illegal. The twist in this story? The students were given permission by their teacher, Chris LeGare, to put their artwork on the bathroom walls.

Sample artwork made in ACA’s Urban Arts and Graffiti class

The class has been intently mastering the art of graffiti – rather than the quintessential “tagging” that is seen around, Chris has been teaching students about more artistic graffiti and how they can incorporate the style into their everyday artwork (without defacing property to do so).

After giving the kids a scare, Officer Smith escorted the class back into the room, where he explained the detrimental effects graffiti can have on a community. Students listened intently to Officer Smith as her discussed the way businesses are fined fifty dollars for each day that the graffiti is not removed from their building. He even went on to explain an extreme case, of a business that has yet to remove graffiti for 365 days. The students were shocked to hear that it is the victim that has to pay the price of the graffiti.

Officer Smith explained the likelihood of getting caught in the act of graffiti and the repercussions of their actions; many of the students already knew of their peers that had suffered these repercussions themselves.

Officer Smith viewing samples of stencil work made in class

The students were so invested in the conversation with Officer Smith that it took the entire class period, where it ended with Officer Smith showing them his binders of local graffiti in Arlington.