Students and teachers explore, create art at summer camp

Over past two weeks, the hallways on the third floor of Perry Hall High School have undergone a transformation.

Inspirational works of art printed from the Internet, oil paintings and sketches wallpaper the lockers while students and teachers can be seen painting, sculpting, drawing and discussing art within the classrooms.


Among the 140 students and eight teachers participating in Baltimore County Public Schools' annual Summer Visual Arts Enrichment Program are several from area schools.

Emma Kantt, a 15-year-old rising sophomore at Catonsville High School, and her 12-year-old sister Abby, who will be an eighth-grader at Catonsville Middle School in September, attended the camp for the first time this year.


"My mom was looking for stuff for my sister and I to do over the summer," Emma said.

"We're both into art, so she was like, 'You guys should try this out,'

" her sister added.

For 13-year-old Logan Schilling, the visual arts camp has become somewhat of a summer tradition.

"In fifth grade, my art teacher gave us fliers and told us about the camp," said Logan, who will be an eighth-grader at Arbutus Middle School. "I thought that it would be fun and I've been doing it for four years.

"I've made friends who I've kept all four years and they have all the same interests as me," Logan said.

Like Logan, Relay resident Carson Amersbach is a camp veteran.

"My parents showed me this brochure for the arts camp (last year)," said the 12-year-old, who will start seventh grade at Arbutus Middle School in the fall. "So I took it and I really enjoyed it."


The camp is open to any Baltimore County student in grades 3-12, and has been offered for more than 20 years, according to Linda Popp, the visual arts coordinator for the school system.

"It's a very popular enrichment opportunity for Baltimore County students," she said July 11 at the high school.

The two-week camp, which began July 8 and will conclude July 19, costs $375 and includes transportation.

Though the activities are divided in elementary, middle and high school levels, they all provide students with an opportunities to think outside the box when it comes to creating art.

"It's a very creative, artistic community at all the levels," said Popp, sporting wire-rimmed glasses with a skinny arrow shooting across the top and a bulky, multi-colored necklace made from buttons. "They love that support group that's encouraging them to take risks and grow as artists."

"(There's) no portfolio review or anything, it's students interested in developing their artistic skills," she said.


"It's not graded, so they don't have to worry about making it perfect," Popp said. "They can explore and grow as an artist."

Chance to try something new

Emma Kantt said she's interested in photography and wants to attend art school after graduation. She said she enjoyed the opportunity provided by the camp to try out new mediums of painting.

"I've never used oil paint before, but I know it's a very common medium and it's cool to be able to use it," she said. "That's really important (to know) later on."

Her sister enjoyed the sculpture projects she worked on, both physically and digitally.

"In sculpture, we made a spaghetti tower," Abby said. "Now we're making chair prototypes out of paper.


"I've never really done anything that we're doing, so it's kind of cool to learn it," she said.

Logan said she enjoyed using a program called Sculptris, which provides students with a digital ball of clay that they can turn into any sculpture they like.

"We're making 3D sculptures of mythical creatures," Logan said. "We either add different details or different pieces and add color and move it around to see how it looks from every angle."

Amersbach said he usually does a lot of "observational drawing" but that the camp allowed him to explore other mediums that he thinks will help him improve overall as an artist.

"Because of it (the camp), I got into GT (Gifted and Talented) arts for next year," Carson said. "I got to do a variety of different techniques each day and it makes me a lot better at my art."

This exploration of new mediums and opportunity to make mistakes and try new things is the core purpose of the arts camp, said Eric Volkman, art department chairman at Catonsville Middle School.


"Their teachers are actually Baltimore County art teachers," Volkman said. "You really get to plunge in and get a lot of good discussion, practice."

The 58-year-old teacher has been at Catonsville Middle for the past 14 years and is participating in the Artist Educator Summer Painting Institute, a branch of the camp designed for Baltimore County teachers.

The teachers participate in similar activities, such as painting still lifes and landscapes, as the students, but at a more accelerated rate.

They receive three credits toward the Maryland Department of Education's Continuing Professional Development program for participating.

"I wanted more enrichment so I can better enrich my students as they go up to high school," Volkman said. "They give us something new and challenging each day.

"Truly as a teacher, you got into teaching because you love art, but the course work of teaching kind of pulls you away (from your own)," he said.


Volkman taught Emma Kantt when she was in middle school and teaches Abby Kantt during the school year. He said he is enjoying watching his students participate in the program alongside him.

"It's really exciting, because you know they're going to hit all the hurdles and the bumps in the road that you did," he said. "But if you stick with it, you will grow."