Local artist Angela Sands Ellsworth teamed up with the LaFontaine Arts Council to offer a unique opportunity for members of the Boys & Girls Club of Huntington County.
Starting the first week of October, Ellsworth spent two days each week at the Boys & Girls Club, working on a collage with a linticular design.
"The idea for the project comes from a project called ‘Abstract Word Art' that art educator Ellen Dean uses with her students and that I've used with my students at Stargazer," says Ellsworth. "She comes up with mad-lib sentences that the kids then fill in the blanks for. The sentences are meant to be silly and fun but also to help the kids practice building sentences and using grammar while making something beautiful."
Ellsworth adds that for the Boys & Girls Club project she asked the members to come up with a positive phrase of their own.
"My only guideline was that it be positive," she notes.
The project included several phases over a period of months.
Members painted their positive phrases on pieces of paper and then exchanged them with others who in turn painted their phrases over the original ones.
"The idea of having them paint their phrases on top of someone else's reinforced the idea of working together, combining positive ideas to create something beautiful," Ellsworth states. "The phrases were then torn into small pieces and placed in a ‘positive thought' box and then glued together to form a collage."
"I knew that we'd be making the Boys & Girls Club logo and I immediately thought of a heart for the other image because all positive things come from a place of love within all of us and I thought it would also express how all the kids feel about the BGC as well," she adds. "I came up with the idea of a lenticular format from a print I did about a year ago. I did a print of my first black lab, Sid, and one of my second black lab, Ray, and then cut them up and put them in this format. Everyone responded to it in a positive way and I thought it would be the perfect format for this particular project as well."
The most popular phrases that the members chose from were in 10 categories: philosophical, friends, pets, family/Boys and Girls Club, art, sports, video games, music, food and other.
"I was surprised to see philosophical phrases like ‘I like all things' and ‘The world is cool' beat out phrases about friends and family," says Ellsworth. "It just goes to show what the kids are really thinking about."
In all, 199 individuals worked on the project, 186 members and nine staff from the club, three from the arts council and Ellsworth.
The team is in the final stages of the project, which when completed will be framed.
"I've also made copies of everyone's original phrase and each member will get a copy of that," Ellsworth notes. "We're shooting to be done by Arts Express on March 23, where it will be unveiled. From there it will travel to different locations around town."
Debbie Dyer, executive director of the arts council, says the project is part of the council's vision.
"It's an extension of our Outreach Arts in Education program, where we worked to serve an area of the community where art is not necessarily at the forefront," she notes. "This was a great partnership with Angela and the Boys and Girls Club and it is awesome to see the members get excited about art. The arts council's goal is to expand accessibility of art related activities to children in the community."
Ellsworth echoes the same sentiments.
"This project was great because it showed kids that you don't have to be an artist to be creative," she says.
"It also enhances teamwork and reinforces that each person can play a part in creating something beautiful."