Originally created 06/28/02

Camp allows children to be creative, have fun



AIKEN - Alec Forrester, 7, and Ashlan Jackson, 8, eyed each other's octopus windsocks from across the art table.

Each wondered why the other's octopus had braces drawn on the teeth.

"They share (ideas)," said Brenda Sleasman, Aiken Center for the Arts' camp director. "It doesn't matter."

Ms. Sleasman devised the center's camp themes. This is the third year for the camp. The summer is devoted to animals, but other themes have included the alphabet and time travel.

Ms. Sleasman said she bounces most of her ideas off her 8-year-old twins, Alex and Brandon.

"I want to know what kids want to do," Ms. Sleasman said.

It must be working, because Ms. Sleasman can point to many repeat campers.

"I've already been here for a long time," Ashlan said. "Because I love art camp and I love to work with art. Sometimes I like it in school, but there you have to finish a project in a day. I don't always finish in a day."

Joye Ullery studies political science at the College of Charleston, but this summer she is teaching art with skills she learned years ago.

Ms. Ullery said she mastered the art of papier-mache as a child by making several raccoon heads with her brother for a Boy Scout float in the Coon Dog Day festival in Saluda, N.C.

This week, Ms. Ullery created the wire shape of a bottlenose spotted dolphin. Although each week of camp is about art and animals, this week is devoted to those living in the sea.

On Wednesday, the dolphin was getting its first coat of blue paint.

"He's a little bigger than normal, but it's OK. Kids like big things," Ms. Ullery said.

If the art created isn't life-size, it's small enough to take home.

Diana Darr, a pre-medical student at the University of South Carolina Aiken, spent Wednesday teaching the 24 children how to make sea scene glitter boxes equipped with paper fish and real, but donated, sand and shells.

To Ms. Sleasman, the art is less about making something colorful and creative than it is about talking to the children and finding out what they think.

"If I were a seashell, where would I like to be?" Ms. Sleasman asked Abby Deal, 6.

"Sitting in the sun," Abby said.

Four sessions remain:

Backyard Friends, July 8-12

Decorate the Desert, July 15-19

Into the Woods, July 22-26

Mountain Magic, July 29-Aug. 2

Contact the Aiken Center for the Arts at (803) 641-9094 for more information.

The arts center will display the work of the young summer artists at 10 a.m. Aug. 3.

Reach Carly Phillips at (803) 648-1395 or carly.phillips@augustachronicle.com.