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ArtReach positively impacts Indy youth

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A untitled piece by Coburn Place Safe Haven students, ages 7-12
  • A untitled piece by Coburn Place Safe Haven students, ages 7-12

Want to rejuvenate your spirit? Check out some artwork by children. You’ll like it even if you aren’t a parent, aunt, uncle, or godmother. I’m pretty trustworthy. I promise.

Earlier tonight, I stopped by the Indianapolis Art Center (820 E. 67th Street) to check out current shows, including the 18th Annual Michael A. Carroll ArtReach Exhibition. Nothing was really making an impact on me until I went down the west hallway to the Clowes and Hurt Galleries, where work by the ArtReach students was on display. I belong here, I heard myself say, and smiled.

ArtReach is a year-round program that matches a paid, professional artist with youth ages 5-18 to create what I dare to call more than art. The youth’s creativity was alive and well, but I really picked up on their deeper understanding of the works they had studied. Familiar names like Matisse and Van Gogh popped up, as well as artists I hadn’t heard of before, like contemporary African-American artist Beverly Buchanan. Students studied the artists’ works and then created paintings, collages, pottery, plastic wrap body casts, and clay models, among other pieces. The array of colors was striking. I saw several pieces that I honestly would have attributed to adults — the talent was just that impressive.

My visit reminded me of collaborative projects in elementary school that involved butcher paper and tempera paint. I don’t remember delving into the history, culture, or philosophy of art as the ArtReach projects do, but it was a nice moment nonetheless. The omnipresent soundtrack from a stop-motion animation video featuring vintage video game characters helped me geek out on nostalgia that much more. The music switched from Pac-Man to Mario Brothers and then settled into the background as I took in the art. I can only imagine how cool the classes are. It made me want to be 10 again... for a few minutes.

The exhibit closes this Sunday. The center’s hours are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Stop by. It’s awesome AND free. No lie.

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