Imagine teaching sculpture at a summer camp to a room of 15 high-schoolers who are willing to do whatever-, try whatever you ask of them. 'Here, use this power drill. Here, try this jigsaw. Here's how you use a utility knife without cutting yourself.' The students are engaged, excellent problem solvers, from all walks of life, all over Michigan and from states beyond. You have the supplies you need and a director who will get the supplies you need. Then, imagine you have an orchestra of world-class musicians playing live, just outside your classroom window. (On the days those folks aren't serenading you, middle-and high school musicians are serenading you – and I mean GOOD middle and high school musicians. The kind you would never guess were only in middle- or high school. Kids are KILLING it when they play John Philip Sousa marches. It's all you can do to not just march right out the door!)
The summer camp where this all happens, is Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.
I took my son to this camp as an euphonium camper for 7 straight years. He got a nice scholarship, because he plays euphonium – an instrument near and dear to the hearts of the folks who started the camp. Every year, he was so excited to get back to Blue Lake and reunite with old friends. This year, I went to Blue Lake, as one of the sculpture instructors. So.... I wasn't a camper, but I had the privilege of experiencing the magic of Blue Lake, anyway.
I ran every morning at 6 a.m., which was a treat because no one else was up. (I did, however, get to see a porcupine, a skunk and several deer out rustling around in the morning woods.) I got my head in the right place for the day, then headed to the classroom for the day by 7:50a.m, passing by a gazebo full of jazz players warming up for the morning. Often, my students were already waiting outside, ready to go, for their 8 a.m. class.
Girls who'd never touched a power tool were quickly and gently converted into power tool users. Kids who'd never used hand tools became experts at using utility knives. Students who thought they 'couldn't draw' were introduced to the magic of sumi brush drawing and taught to connect their drawing with their sculpture. In 10 days. I told my students, “If you never study art in college or make it as an adult, you're going to have to fix stuff and knowing how to use these tools will help you.”
Following are photos of the Tesselation Project, the Figure Sculpture and the Mobile Project. All are made almost entirely of repurposed materials.