Kids, adults get wild for bear and nature-themed art workshop

They gathered around a long table in the front hall of the Nolan Center, cutting construction paper, drawing and coloring images and gluing pieces together.

There was focus. There was vision. There was quiet. There was not a kid in sight at the BearFest adult art workshop on July 27.

About 12 women showed up to put their creative touch on Native formline art, with templates for bears, salmon, ravens and other things like totems. Various colors and designs could be utilized and the only limit was their imagination.

Event co-coordinator Artha DeRuyter was trying out formline designs for the first time. She typically focuses on quilting and fabrics as her choice of medium.

"I like all forms of art. I love art. I've taken all kinds of classes. It's just fun," she said as she prepared to cut out a profile of a salmon from construction paper. "You can see the horrible fish I did up there (on the display board) with the kids' yesterday. I told (event director Michael Bania), 'Don't put my name on that!'

Her first name was prominently displayed above the brown fish, speckled with different colors, almost looking like a picture for a dish from a 1970s-era Betty Crocker cookbook.

Last year's class focused more on bears, however this year, Bania said, there was a goal to incorporate more formline art.

A separate workshop was held the day before for kids, in which 49 children showed up, according to Joan Sargent, the other co-coordinator.

"I didn't keep track of the guardians, but it seemed like people came in with five kids," she said. Several long tables had to be put to use to accommodate the influx of creative kids. "We just kept adding tables. They kept coming. By 10:30, we were like, 'Oh, gosh! They keep coming!'"

But instead of a mass of kids running wild, Sargent said, just like the adults the following day, the kids became rapt with their individual projects.

"You know what's amazing about the kids? They come in and they're kind of all over. Then, they're completely still, they're completely calm," she said. "Nobody is running around. They may come over and look at (examples), but their independent thinking is going on."

One parent who didn't bring her children was Heather Howe, who teaches science at the high school.

"I thought I'd come try it myself, get some peace and quiet," she joked. Howe said she finds she's able to use art when it comes to teaching science, having taken both biology and graphic design in college.

"I do lots of diagraming, especially in biology," she said. "The myosis project is all cut paper. We do some modeling things well. There's a lot of overlap in science and art."


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