Rethinking art at Camp Smart Art

Throughout the summer, the University of Northern Iowa hosts a wide variety of camps for kids of all ages. Smart Art was a camp held for the first time this summer during the week of June 10 through 14. A sustainability-themed camp, Smart Art used only recycled or "found" materials provided through the Iowa Waste Exchange (IWE) to create artwork.

Camp Smart Art
Esther, Kristen and Brandon in front of the set for their stop-motion film.

Angela Pease, an adjunct professor in the art department, came up with the idea for the Smart Art camp. "I just like the idea of being innovative and working with materials you wouldn't normally consider fine art materials," she said, "and promoting that idea of using what you can find."

Pease decided to do a project she had done before in one of her UNI classes, a stop-motion film. The props for the film were created out of the recycled materials. The students wrote the story, built the props, and shot and edited the movie. The final video consisted of more than 200 frames and a run time a little more than one minute.

The video, which can be viewed by clicking on the link below, shows two characters playing tag. While playing, they realize that a game of tag between two people isn't very exciting, so they go to the local landfill and create a new friend to play with. "That sentiment of bringing new things out of old things is there," said Pease.

Aside from students learning how to reuse materials in a new and interesting way, Pease says the skills this camp introduced can aid the students in the future. "I've been reading so many things and talking to people who have said that art is becoming something that is really important in terms of going out and finding a job. People are looking for individuals that can think outside the box in every kind of field. So, even if they don't go into an art related profession, that idea that they've been nurturing their creativity in some sort of way, I think it's important."

Esther Edgerton of Grundy Center said she attended the camp following the encouragement from her high school art teacher. "I've learned that you can make random stuff out of anything," said Edgerton. She plans on coming to UNI after graduating from high school to pursue a degree in art and teaching. She feels that UNI has a good art program and her time at the camp has only reinforced that belief.

Kristen Kalkwarf of Grundy Center attended the camp after her friend, Edgerton, called her needing a ride to camp. She said the camp sounded like fun and decided to attend. Kalkwarf also wants to attend UNI and pursue a double major in sociology and social work, with a triple minor in criminology, psychology and family problems.

Brandon Williams of Cedar Falls attended the camp because he "realized it was a very good learning experience. To use garbage to create art, it's very interesting to me." 

Pease said her goal for the camp was "to make sure that in the end, they've done something fun they wouldn't have done on their own."

To view the student Smart Art video, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fa85lJvVI_I. For more information about camps at UNI, visit www.uni.edu/camps.

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