[Context to these programs in lieu of critiques by the press and others of WHP: Watts Towers Art Center hosted excellent art programs for children during the summer months but, given the limited space and the additional children bused in from outside of the area, many children in the neighborhood were not allowed to participate. This is reason we decided to host art programs for these children.]
In summer 2010, I initiated a series of firsts for the organization. One of the most important was the launch of a new set of programs focused on art classes for children living in the area around the Watts Towers. Many parents often lamented about the lack of access to summer programs for their children. I saw this as an opportunity to engage the surrounding environment as raw material for creative projects and introduce my own experience in crafting exhibition-related arts classes for k-12 students in museums.
I invited Katie Bachler, a well known artist, educator, and gardener to lead the first class. Katie was brilliant about how she integrated the environment into the classes – exploring native plants, examining seeds, and flowers. Of course, Katie also introduced organic mulching using worms, soil, and paper which left the kids in awe! Kids and dirt, what is else can I say about that! We also contacted the local Farmer’s Market and they gladly invited the class to interview the farmers. The staff there made the visit especially nice after distributing Farmer’s Market dollars so that the children could buy food, fruit, and something to drink. In all, it was an enriching class for the students…not to mention for the hungry worms as well!