Art exploration

Pastels, charcoal and clay are some of the art forms a local artist has been teaching children at the Sullivan County Headstart program.

“I’m working in a variety of (media). And I’ve been alternating. Sometimes I work with water colors, which they work very well with, and sometimes we work with pastels,” said Dan Curry, who has been working in art since the 70s.

Curry has been spending time with the children exploring the world of art thanks to a residency sponsored by the Northern Tier Partnership for Arts in Education, the Tree House Fund at the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Columbia/Sullivan Head Start funded through the Federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Curry said he spends about an hour with the children throughout their day introducing them to different forms of art. In order to show the children the styles, Curry brings in his own artwork.

“It’s just a variety. It’s just an ongoing (process) and looking for different ways to stimulate them,” he said.

When it came to exploring clay, Curry brought a potter’s wheel into the classroom. Although students didn’t fully participate in the creation of bowls, they did have the opportunity to feel the clay as it rotated on the wheel.

The idea to show children art came about after speaking with one of the program’s teachers.

“She had mentioned to me that they do art activities there and they have a lot of art supplies. I had just left my job and was looking for work,” Curry explained. “So I went in there as a volunteer for the first session to see if the little kids would respond to it.”

Teaching to a new age group was a learning process for Curry, as well.

“It’s kind of new territory for me. I’m kind of used to teaching teenagers. … So its different for me,” he said.

But overall, Curry said it’s been a good experience.

“I’m actually interested in the impact with such an early age. I think it’s very important and I think it’s a very exciting time to introduce them to art,” Curry said.

Curry believes his lessons will help the children as they enter school, which is what Headstart is trying to do.

He enjoys seeing the freedom in which the children create art. With every project being new, to see the children explore the medium gives him a good feeling.

“It usually puts a smile on my face. I see how they respond to working with in particular the different (media),” Curry said. “… I enjoy that and encourage that because sometimes students feel like they’re being judged when doing art. In this environment, everything they do – every brush stroke – is OK.”