Kansas University senior Kathy Graham said her work at the Lawrence Arts Center has allowed her to develop a whole new appreciation for art.
"I love to walk through the gallery and see what the children have created," Graham said. "It's just amazing what they can do. They still have that ability to imagine that some adult students lose."
Graham started her work as a part-time paid employee with the Lawrence Arts Center last year after she heard from a fellow KU art student that the center had an opening. She was expecting it to be just another job, but Graham said it has turned into so much more.
Ellen Casagrande, education director, said it is people like Graham who make the center such a great place.
"They bring a lot of fun and life to the center and office," Casagrande said. "They bring a unique perspective whether in art history, journalism, fine arts, dance or drama they bring whatever they specialize in."
Graham studies ceramics at KU, but her job has allowed her to use other media and develop a greater appreciation for the artistic process. Graham wanted to teach at one time but then decided to devote her studies entirely to ceramics. She said her experience at the Lawrence Arts Center has inspired her to do more.
"There are so many programs for children and adults to learn art," Graham said. "I just know I want to be a part of that for the rest of my life."
Center of fun
Casagrande said her own six years with the center has been very fulfilling.
"Everything we do is special," she said. "There are so many camps and so many fun things going on here."
The center has four yearly sessions, one for each season. The center's busiest season is the summer. Casagrande said the expanded summer sessions make it easier for parents to arrange schedules so children can get involved.
Casagrande said the Lawrence community is particularly supportive of the arts, and that has made it easier for the center to hire qualified instructors.
"Lawrence involvement in the arts is great," she said. "There are under 15 employees at the Lawrence Arts Center, but we have many talented contract artists whom we hire each session."
The center has hired three part-time KU art students, including Graham, to help teach the classes. Graham said they have enjoyed the experience greatly.
"It's just amazing. Kids take a project I give them and they go ways I never would have thought of," Graham said.
But Casagrande said college students aren't just teaching classes, some of them are taking them as well.
"A lot of Haskell (Indian Nations University) and KU students just take classes at the Lawrence Arts Center," she said. "They just want to try something new out instead of taking a credit class at the college."
Casagrande said the center has hundreds of adult students. But Graham said it's the children's art classes she teaches that are most rewarding. Her class size ranges from six to 12 students.
Graham said she has developed a greater appreciation for children's abilities.
"Their work is so meaningful," she said. "By seeing what they produce I can make connections with the kids."