Little Ones Creating Their Art On Main Street: Imagination Station
By Alexe van Beuren
Imagination Station is a creative art center for children on Main Street, and if you have a chance, step in before Friday, May 18, to be dazzled by the fourth annual art show. The exhibit features paintings, sculptures, and collages from 60 local children from their art classes over the past year, and the walls are lined with works of serious whimsy.
“It’s exciting to have people from the community seeing what the children have been doing,” said Anissa Wilkinson, the center’s founder. “And it’s empowering for the children to see their artwork framed and hanging.”
Imagination Station began with several mothers asking Wilkinson, who has three young children of her own, to teach some informal art classes.
“My background was in English,” said Wilkinson, who graduated with a BA from Lambeth University and then went on to get her master’s in English Literature from Western Kentucky University. “I had always loved art, and done art, but it was a personal passion.”
That personal passion has turned into an ever-growing part-time business. For her first year of teaching, Wilkinson operated from her home, and when it became clear that Water Vallians had an interest in after-school art classes for their children, Wilkinson went to Steve Thompson and asked to lease a space. Now in their fourth year of operation, Imagination Station is run by Wilkinson and Lecia Bain, who came to the center two years ago with over a decade’s worth of experience in elementary education.
“She really has enhanced the program,” said Wilkinson. “I couldn’t do it without her.”
Between Bains and Wilkinson, Imagination Station offers a charming hybrid of creativity and discipline for children as young as pre-kindergarten age and through eighth grade, with a few dedicated high-schoolers thrown in. Every year, the program adds refinements, practical as well as artistic– this last school year, buses ran directly between the school and Imagination Station for the three-four pm classes, adding a new level of ease for parents.
Generally, each class (separated mostly by grade-level) will jump into a new project each week, with Wilkinson and Bain showing the students how to put the elements of a particular piece together. After the students practice techniques like foregrounds and backgrounds, chiarusco, and other artistic methods, they learn the official reasoning and terminology for what they’ve just done.
“We try not to make it like school,” said Wilkinson. “But I want them to be excited and challenged.”
Judging by the posted comments from the students themselves in the foyer, Wilkinson has reasons to believe she’s succeeded. “Art is my favorite hobby,” wrote Allyson Avant, age nine, on her profile. “And I can do it my way.”
“It is so so so so so so so so fun,” wrote Isaac Paredes, age ten.
After seeing creations like sculptures of fried eggs, illuminated paintings, and a series of sponges-turned-superheroes, I have to agree.
*Stop into Imagination Station (located between Cornerstone Rehabilitation and the Burns Law Office) to view the artwork on display until May 18 or to sign your child up for summer art classes.*