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Truckee artist encourages youth creative skills

Abby Hutchison, Sun News Service

TAHOE CITY – The idea is simple: take a paper plate, some miscellaneous food products, some glue and create a work of art. Kids have done it for years; it’s the age-old artistic quick-fix that doesn’t require the purchase of expensive art supplies.

Truckee artist and teacher Nina Ski is using simplistic project ideas to challenge her students to explore the artistic world in her art enrichment classes for children of all ages.

The classes, now offered in Tahoe City at the Fairway Community Center and the Skylandia House as both preschool enrichment and after-school enrichment programs, encourage young children to study various art techniques and medians and even critique one another’s work in group sessions.

“I’m trying to push the kids to the other side of the art spectrum,” Ski said. “It’s amazing what these kids can do week after week. It’s great to watch them develop and figure out ways to perform in their own styles using their own perspectives.”

Her KidArt sessions offer children an introduction to a wide variety of art processes by using hands-on techniques for creative activities such as paper mache mask making, bread dough art, drawing with charcoal, circle weaving and sand casting.

“I’m pretty much a kid myself,” Ski said. “A lot of times I choose things I liked to do as a kid. I’m very recyclable-minded. Often my KidArt sessions utilize recycled materials and products generally found in the standard kitchen and home. I like using things someone may throw away that turn into treasures for my little artists.”

Through critique sessions, her students have the opportunity to talk about art and explain their perspectives.

“What always amazes me is the shyest kids who never wanted to critique before are now requesting critiques,” Ski said. “I watch their confidence boost. It empowers the kids to perform at whatever level they are capable of.”

The thing children learn about art is that you can always fix it, she said.

“There’s never a mistake and that’s a wonderful and positive realization for the kids.”

Ski, who has a degree in graphic communications, is the current art coordinator for the Sierra Nevada Children’s Museum in Truckee and the assistant curator for the College Galleries at Truckee Meadows Community College. She also does a wide variety of artwork with oil, acrylic, watercolor and sculpture and remains active in North Lake Tahoe/Truckee arts community. Last year she coordinated the Art in Alternative and Public Places program for the Sierra Artists Network.

Preschool enrichment classes are offered every Wednesday through April 25 at the Fairway Community Center from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. for children ages 2 to 6. Classes cost $7.50 per student and require parent/guardian participation. Sign up is suggested but not required; walk-ins are welcome if there is room.

After-school art enrichment classes for students age 6 and older are offered every Tuesday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Skylandia House through April 24. Classes cost $5 per student including materials and parent participation is welcome but not required.

For information on the art classes, call Ski at 587-2649.


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