Northeast Times

Fishtown artist to teach unique classes for kids

El­lissa Col­li­er hopes to in­spire the city's kids to de­vel­op their artist­ic tal­ents.

Fishtown res­id­ent El­lissa Col­li­er said that in an in­spir­ing place like Phil­adelphia, all the city’s kids have artist­ic po­ten­tial.

She should know — the 32-year-old teach­ing artist has her hand in many artist­ic ven­tures around the city, and quite a few bring kids in­to the mix.

Be­gin­ning in Ju­ly, Col­li­er will teach four unique art classes at Woodmere Art Mu­seum, at 9201 Ger­man­town Ave., and she said though the mu­seum is a bit of a hike from the river wards, the op­por­tun­ity for young artists to ex­plore their tal­ents is well worth the trip — es­pe­cially be­cause Woodmere of­fers free bus­ing and schol­ar­ships.

“It’s very im­port­ant for [kids] to find things that they are in­ter­ested in, and that will be be­ne­fi­cial for them,” she said. “There are so many al­tern­at­ives in Phil­adelphia that aren’t the best. Art is something pos­it­ive.”

Col­li­er, who has lived in Fishtown since 2007, has worked with Phil­adelphia’s Mur­al Arts Pro­gram for five years. Along with con­tinu­ing to teach at that pro­gram and Woodmere, she teaches at the Moore Col­lege of Art and Design in Cen­ter City and has been work­ing along­side stu­dents in city de­ten­tion cen­ters to cre­ate two sep­ar­ate mur­als in those build­ings.

She also sold some of her work at the Trenton Av­en­ue Arts Fest­iv­al this past May.

Col­li­er said Fishtown is a great place for artists.

“There’s really great, fresh en­ergy,” she said. “I’m not from here, and that’s what brought me here.”

Col­li­er said she hopes that Fishtown kids, along with kids from all neigh­bor­hoods in Phil­adelphia, can par­ti­cip­ate in the classes she teaches.

“I don’t think the schools can ac­tu­ally provide the same level [of artist­ic in­struc­tion] that some of these non­profits can,” she said.

Pam Birm­ing­ham, cur­at­or of edu­ca­tion for Woodmere, said that a mu­tu­al friend in con­nec­tion with the Moore Col­lege of Art and Design in­tro­duced Birm­ing­ham and Col­li­er, and the two de­cided what classes Col­li­er wanted to teach at the mu­seum.

“She’s just a nat­ur­al,” Birm­ing­ham said of Col­li­er.

In Ju­ly, Col­li­er will be teach­ing 6 to 11 year-old chil­dren two classes: “Noise Makers”— in which the stu­dents will make artist­ic mu­sic­al in­stru­ments — and “Tra­di­tion­al Ja­pan­ese Crafts,” in which the stu­dents will ex­plore Ja­pan­ese art tech­niques like cal­li­graphy, haiku po­etry and koi fish kites.

In Au­gust, Col­li­er will teach the “Ma­gic Car­pet” class for kids aged 4 to 6 years, in which they will study the art of Ghana, In­dia and Mex­ico, as well as an “Un­der­wa­ter Ad­ven­ture” class for 6 to 11 year-old stu­dents that will teach them to cre­ate art based on naut­ic­al myths and fables.

The chance for a pos­it­ive artist­ic ex­per­i­ence doesn’t have to be a dis­tant dream for river ward stu­dents.

Birm­ing­ham said there are many op­por­tun­it­ies for the city’s kids to get in­volved.

Woodmere con­ducts an edu­ca­tion­al out­reach pro­gram in which teach­ing artists like Col­li­er vis­it Philly classrooms to demon­strate and teach art pro­grams.

Woodmere also brings stu­dents to the mu­seum to view and dis­cuss the art on dis­play. Birm­ing­ham said Woodmere has worked with 50 to 60 schools per year.

“We are al­ways look­ing for new schools to work with,” she said, adding that if any school wants to be a part of the out­reach pro­gram, ad­min­is­tra­tion staff can simply con­tact the mu­seum.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Woodmere hosts a chil­dren’s gal­lery with work on ex­hib­it from the stu­dents of many dif­fer­ent schools, and any city school can con­tact the mu­seum to have its stu­dents’ work on dis­play.

She said that Woodmere also buses stu­dents to the mu­seum free of charge, and of­fers schol­ar­ships for stu­dents who may not be able to af­ford classes. Col­li­er’s “Un­der­wa­ter Ad­ven­ture” class, for ex­ample, costs $135, in­clud­ing all ma­ter­i­als, for the five-time class.

“We want to get art out there,” Birm­ing­ham said. “My goal is to make it ac­cess­ible to all the kids in Phil­adelphia.”

Col­li­er said she hopes kids from all back­grounds and loc­a­tions can take part in her classes, and that she en­joys teach­ing young­er stu­dents be­cause of the fear­less­ness with which they ap­proach art.

“They’re so eager,” she said. “The young­er they can be in­volved in art, the bet­ter.”

To be­come a part of Woodmere Art Mu­seum’s edu­ca­tion­al out­reach pro­gram or stu­dent gal­lery, or to in­quire about classes and schol­ar­ships, con­tact the mu­seum at 215-247-0476 or vis­it www.woodmereart­musuem.org.

Star Man­aging Ed­it­or Mi­kala Jam­is­on can be reached at 215-354-3113 or at mjam­is­on@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at mjamison@bsmphilly.com.

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