Youth learn to solve problems and think critically through summer art programs

Art education prepares students for creative careers in art and design, but it also builds confidence and important skills that are valuable throughout their lives.

A Fashion and Textiles student in the Summer Institute For Teens. Photo by Erin Anderson/Emily Carr University.

Summer offers unique opportunities for middle and high school students to focus on something they are passionate about.

For youth interested in visual arts or design, July and August can be spent improving skills and producing work for university admissions portfolios.

“Summer art programs are different because you are immersed in a studio environment,” says Jaclyn Murray, Teens + Youth Coordinator at Emily Carr University.

“You’re creating every day, so you’re completely focused on your process.”

Murray runs the Junior Art Intensive, a hands-on program for ages 13-15, and the Summer Institute for Teens, a one-month intensive for students aged 16-18 who choose to focus on one of 10 studio disciplines.

While students learn new techniques and further develop their skills, the benefits of art education go beyond direct applications. 

“We embrace and seek creativity outside of the world of art, in fields like technology, medicine, engineering, etc.,” says Murray. “Part of what distinguishes art is that you approach problems in a non-linear way, so students forge their own path to what they want to achieve.”

In terms of working in summer studios that range from architecture to painting, students might have to figure out how to represent an idea or learn a new technique to achieve a desired result. Often, the goals are more abstract than bringing an individual vision to life.

“Art is just as much about looking outward as inward,” says Murray. “It challenges students to not just express themselves but to respond to the world around them.”

Art and design are avenues for students to engage with what’s happening in their own lives, communities and on a global scale, says Murray. “You’re in an environment where you’re encouraged to speak up, feel passionate about something and have an opinion.” 

The community that forms can be one of most meaningful elements of a concentrated art program, says Murray. Studio intensives attract young people who are equally passionate about art and design, allowing students to form a supportive and invigorating network of peers. 

“You can really feel their excitement in the last few days, as it sinks in that they are all about to be part of a public art exhibition that all of Granville Island comes in to see,” says Murray. “They get a taste of what it’s like to be a working artist or a student at an art and design university.”

Emily Carr University’s summer programs will take place this July on their Granville Island campus. Their new campus on Great Northern Way opens in September 2017.

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