MARQUETTE- Many rural schools in the Upper Peninsula can't offer art programs or a wide range of sports or afterschool activities for students to participate in. Liberty Children's Art Project is an organization deigned to help schools like that.
LCAP is a non-profit art enrichment organization that services Marquette and Alger counties. It was founded in 1995 by local artist Marilyn Mutch - who is still an advisor to the board - and it's mission is to provide an environment of discovery, creativity and experimentation in the visual arts for underserved youth, according to LCAP director Carol Phillip .
"By underserved youth, I mean kids that are in the rural parts of the counties where there aren't a lot of opportunities for them such as after school programs," Phillips said.
Ruth Hummell throws clay on a potter's wheel during the Liberty Children's Art Project Big Bay Summer Art Camp. (Photo courtesty of Carol Phillips)
For example, LCAP does a summer art camp in Big Bay every year. Phillips said she can't think of any other activity that's available for children up that way which doesn't require them to come into Marquette, Negaunee or Ishpeming. LCAP classes are taught in collaboration with area schools.
"We try to work in schools that especially can't offer art to their students in their regular curriculum due to budget cuts," Phillips said. "We have after classes, in-school art days - where we bring in four artists and the kids will have art all day long - and the summer art camp."
The students work with many different mediums, from painting to pottery to printmaking and drawing. Phillips said she's gotten great responses from the children who have participated in the programs.
"The students love it," she said. "Especially the students who are at a school that doesn't have art, but they really love art and their parents might have encouraged them to pursue it and they have art supplies at home."
Phillips said creating art is a great way spend a day and to experiment with different activities. She said she's seen art be a confidence booster for some students, especially for students that have a hard time academically but are really gifted in art.
"In one case I had a little girl who was taking first grade for a second time because she had trouble reading because she has dyslexia. She was having a really hard time and didn't like school because of that, but she's an art star," Phillips said. "All the older kids would come up to her and ask her if they could have (her work) and it was obvious that she was working way above her skill level in art. And all of a sudden she felt better about herself."
Phillips is an artist and an art teacher. She started teaching for the organization in 2006. Shortly after starting as a teacher she was asked by the LCAP?director at the time if she wanted to take over as the director.
"It's an opportunity to do something that I believe in and was sort of a natural fit," Phillips said.
Liberty Children's Art Project is housed at the Powell Township school, where they are able store art supplies and use the building for the summer art camp.
For more information, email Carol Phillips at email@example.com
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org