Children who attended “The Amazing Arts Race” summer arts camp at Montgomery County Community College this year had their work put on display for community members in East Norriton to see and celebrate recently.
A new 18 feet by 5.5 feet mural depicting the silhouettes of each of the campers was installed in the lobby of the Minerva D. Braemer Medical Arts Building at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery. The mural, one of several children’s art pieces that will be on display, is part of a collaboration between MCCC, Greater Norristown Art League (GNAL800West) and Variety the Children’s Charity. It was hung at the invitation of the hospital. A meet and greet reception for the new pieces on display will be held July 31 at 1 p.m. The gallery will remain on display through Nov. 10.
“The mural turned out great,” said MCCC Galleries Director Patrick Rodgers, who oversees the camp. “The kids were asked to do something fairly complicated. They did a great job. It was a nice effort by everybody pitch in and paint the silhouettes.
During The Amazing Arts Race, campers travel the world to complete challenges in visual, performing and media arts before moving on to the next destination. The theme of this year’s camp is Murals ‘Round the World, which allowed students to work on projects while remaining socially distanced.
Based on the hit CBS reality game show, the camp is a cross-cultural arts-based curriculum that explores various global cultures to experience visual arts, dance, theater and other traditions, while building teamwork with group challenges and physical activities. The two-week summer camp ran from July 12-23 for children ages 7-10 and was co-organized with Girls First afterschool program of Norristown.
Campers worked individually and collaboratively on short- and long-term art projects and a dance performance, which culminated in an exhibit and presentation on the last day of camp.
The mural on display in the hospital is the largest completed contiguous painting the camp has ever completed.
“For two days it was a lot of work,” said Rodgers, “but it turned out exactly as envisioned.”
Early response to the mural has been equally as positive.
“It’s amazing,” said Ria, GNAL President. “GNAL’s children’s murals used lots of color, whereas this mural was mostly black silhouettes with bits of color. It popped. I liked that some kids chose to be painted upside down. It added an abstract feeling. At first you don’t realize what it is. It encourages you to look at it a little longer than you would otherwise.”
Further, Ria said medical staff at the hospital told her the artwork on display helped them leave their workday feeling refreshed.
“People are working hard and seeing all kinds of horrible sickness and injury, and it’s just a breath of fresh air that helps them reset as they leave all that and reenter their lives outside the hospital,” she said. “I really believe the process of observing art and creating art is mentally very healthy. It’s a brain healer.”
This year’s socially distanced camp at MCCC was spread out in the Fine Arts Center and took advantage more of natural surroundings, and the art activities were based around murals of the world.
“It’s gone both very smoothly and had the same energy as previous years. It’s been a total joy,” said Rodgers. “Going in to this, there was concern social distancing and masking might put a damper on camp, but it didn’t. The kids got used to masks, and they didn’t make it any less fun. We still did art pieces, dancing, games as with any other year; I think it has gone great.”
Campers needed a way to release from a year in quarantine and the camp offered that for them, he said.
“We had a fantastic group from Girls First and the community,” he said. “They formed friendships from the first day. They’ve been yearning for this for more than a year now. It makes it all the more joyful to be able to do it this year.”