YMCA of Frederick County’s Head Start Youth Art Exhibition in Partnership with Story Tapestries

Head Start Story Tapestries Exhibit at the Y Arts CenterThis year, the Write Your Story program at the YMCA of Frederick County Head Start included Artist in Residency sessions for all eight classrooms, site-based family events with performances, and an end-of-the-year Celebration of Art. The YMCA collaborated with Anthony Brock, the Y Arts Center Director, to feature a two-week gallery exhibit showcasing the children’s art leading up to the final event.

The art on display was created by YMCA of Frederick County Head Start preschoolers aged three to five. As the visual artist in residence, Jamie Cowan visited each classroom once or twice. During these visits, picture books were read, songs were sung, and dances were performed before the children donned aprons to “dress for success!” The goal was to create an attractive gallery exhibit featuring a variety of process-based art using various media while simultaneously providing opportunities for the children to practice visual art skills, social skills, and fine motor strengthening.

Head Start Story Tapestries Exhibit at the Y Arts CenterAt the Y Center on North Market Street, one classroom read Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzburg, which emphasizes that mistakes can turn into wonderful creations with a bit of imagination. This idea was practiced before heading to the tables to paint with watercolor on one page and tempera paint with mural paper on another. With the mural, it was quickly realized that even though the paint colors started as separate shades of purple, blue, and black, they blended together on the paper as everyone painted excitedly. Then, the large dark scene was made more beautiful with “stars” stamped in metallic gold and silver to resemble a night sky.

Head Start Story Tapestries Exhibit at the Y Arts CenterIn another classroom, inspiration was taken from books about garden creatures and the metamorphosis of a butterfly. After reading Look It’s Raining by Mathieu Pierloot one day and Caterpillar Dreams by Clive McFarland another day, children used a variety of art and fine motor skills to create a base of grass from torn paper for their flower and butterfly to set upon. Their flowers were created by coloring model magic dough with cyan, yellow, and magenta markers to see the colors blend as they manipulated the dough. This activity is wonderful for developing the hand strength needed for writing. Paper butterflies were made by spraying their marker-colored paper with water to watch the colors blend together and later cutting those out themselves. Throughout the entire process, the classroom teachers and the artist encouraged children to persevere if tasks were difficult and to solve problems as they arose.

Each class’s projects were created similarly by reading, singing, dancing, and reviewing colors together. The children were then prepared for the project by inviting excitement and interest in making something of their own using the materials presented as an invitation to explore. There is power in giving children the autonomy to create and explore with any material, and their joy throughout the process was evident.

Story TapestriesThis collaborative effort between the YMCA of Frederick County and Story Tapestries not only highlighted the creativity of the young learners but also strengthened their developmental skills, fostering an environment where they could thrive both artistically and socially.