Interested in “the different ways the sun helps us and stuff,” Amir Parker,12, personalized his paper mask in the warm hues of red, orange and yellow.
His favorite color, green, was notably absent. When asked about it, he joked: “I haven’t finished it yet.”
Amir decorated a mask as part of an art lesson demonstrating landscape and portraiture art, orchestrated by the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM).
Athalie Range Park, where Amir has been a summer camper for two years, partnered with PAMM on Monday morning through its community program, PAMM in the Neighborhood.
In its 14th year, the eight-week outreach program involves artists exposing Miami-Dade County kids to the creative arts via free interactive lessons and museum tours.
Each lesson is themed, corresponding to pieces currently on display. This year’s theme: “Places and Faces.” The activities involved a group landscape drawing and a lot of paper masks.
“We want to serve as many audiences in as many creative ways as possible, and be a part of our community,” said Kerry Keeler, PAMM’s outreach programs manager. “It’s important for everyone to have a form of expression and find a medium that suits them.”
For Kira Bradshaw, the programming — which gave each camper a portfolio and markers — was not only “fun because we experienced new things”, but also practice.
Having taken art classes for three years at her middle school, Kira aspires to be a children’s book illustrator. Normally, she wouldn’t have the time to draw at home, so she was grateful for the teaching artists who stopped by.
“Many people don’t get to have the experience to actually go view artwork,” she said. “So for them to come and bring it to those who can’t go and see it, is actually really great.”
The inclusivity of the arts is exactly why park manager Ken Simmons sought the partnership. Through art, he says, everyone has their own opinion, and everyone can participate.
Whether the camper is a football star or musical genius, they can indulge in art, which makes it all the more valuable for Range Park and summer camps nationwide, he said.
With nearly 50 kids ages 6 to 13 participating, the room where the programming occurred buzzed with energy.
Even during the lesson’s Q&A portion, there was enthusiasm in the kids’ answers.
Darwin Rodriguez, a PAMM intern, found that energy particularly invigorating.
“It’s nice to know that kids are still kids, that they aren’t jaded by technology,” Rodriguez said. “A pack of markers still exhibits glee and joy. I think that means that there’s still hope for us, yet.”