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Color My World: Waterworks hosts artist residency for middle schoolers

By Cyntra Brown
For The Salisbury Post
Color is more than hues of reds, yellows and blues at Waterworks Visual Art Center.
During a week-long artist residency program last week at the center, 30 middle school students used color to express themselves symbolically.
The “Color My World” residency was led by artists Jenn and Frank Selby.
Participants came from Rowan-Salisbury public, private, and home schools. Free of charge, the students worked with professional artists and will have their work displayed in a professional gallery installation at the center.
Funding for the residency was provided by The Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation as well as the NC Arts Council Grassroots Fund.
This year, students learned about the notion of color. An overarching theme of Waterworks this summer was color, and students learned that colors can have a wide range of meanings in different cultures.
In the United States, the color yellow is a symbol of happiness, while in Egypt it’s used for mourning. While black is our symbol of mourning, Native Americans relate the color to soil, which gives life.
After learning about the symbolism of colors, the students created their own. They painted color wheels and wrote their own symbolic meanings beside them.
They used these colors to create two major projects that will go on display in Jenn and Frank Selby’s exhibition, “There, Not There,” September 18 from 6 – 8 p.m.
One of the pieces in the student exhibit will include a shadow box used to display the student’s personal narrative.
Creating images in and outside the box, the project will represent each person’s unique personality.
The students also worked on other projects they took home at the end of the camp.
One, a “dream book,” is used to keep track of their short and long term dreams and goals.
The books used were donated to the students as blank canvases. They were allowed to cut into the book, as well as tear out words, phases and pages, creating their own “personal mythology.”
Sabrina Hartsell carved out the inside of her book and placed a beetle inside. It reminded her of a crazy dream she’d had about bugs.
Stepping outside the classroom, the students also went on field trips, visiting a sculpture show and Michael and Connie Baker’s art studio.
The summer residency program is designed to inspire and nurture creativity. The students gained critical and creative thinking skills while reflecting on their work and the work of others.
Jenn and Frank Selby say they are enjoying the opportunity to inspire lives and give back to the community.
Jenn wants the students to explore themselves. The experience, she says, is “as much about their world as possible.”

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