Art classes portray child imagination

By Laura Strader

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Art education classes have put a new spin on the cliché in their exhibit at Awesome Inc. on Main Street, which houses a gallery for exhibits of student artists.

Dr. George Szekely, Area Head of Art Education at The University of Kentucky, has 22 students that will have their art on display. His focuses in class are child’s play, basic design and uninhibited creativity with objects and are displayed along the walls of the gallery.

In class, Szekely has encouraged students to reminisce on the playing of their childhood days. He encourages his students to learn to play with children.

“The more you make believe, pretend, fantasize, the more natural it becomes,” Szekely said.

Displayed beyond the tip of his finger was a table hosting many lampshades. This table stood representative of a lamp store, which the artist acted out in Szekely’s class. Within the exhibit, the roots of childhood are fashioned around the room.

“The first designs children love are their teddy bears,” Szekely said.

He discussed the design of setting the table as a child and crafting imaginary scenes in the food. Although, playing with food was discouraged, Szekely points out that it too is design. Around the gallery is the display of a living room designed for a doll, tracks designed for toy cars and kitchens designed and crafted from felt.

“Anyone can design anything if they put their mind to it. I’m an interior design major and I did a food exhibit,” first year graduate student Sabrina Mason said. “I don’t have to just do interior design and I can do anything I want to do—make the things I have always wanted to make.”

Each work is a display of the basic designs children know well and are fascinated with. The works depict the reflection on the childhoods of the artists learning to be teachers, “artist-teachers” as Szekely would call them.

This plays on what student Bryan Reinholdt hopes will be taken away from the exhibit.

“It’s the process of both making art and also being an educator. Notice that they take similar paths, finding a profession as an artist-teacher, not just an art teacher.”

Among the designs, the uninhibited creativity is integrated. The students in Szekely’s classes are encouraged to make the art room a welcoming place. A collection of items from the side of the road, yard sales and thrift stores are cherished in these art education classes.

“It is about playing with these things, taking them apart and seeing what they can be,” Szekely said.

Parts and pieces of things thrown away can be observed taking on a new form in this exhibition.

“Objects have many lives if we audition them,” Szekely said.

The exhibition will be open for one more week at 348 Main Street in downtown Lexington, there is no charge to view the exhibit. In the viewing, you can relive childhood play, view concepts of basic design and relish in the uninhibited creativity of the students. All the works stand for themselves in reiterating what Szekely has tried to teach his artist-teachers.

“Ultimately we want to teach kids that they can bring anything to the art room and you won’t tell them it’s trash.”