EMPOWERING YOUNG VOICES THROUGH THE ARTS
- The Portland Child Art Studio is the second art studio of its kind. It is inspired by the Berkeley Child Art Studio, which was led by Miriam de Uriarte in Berkeley, CA during the 1970s through the 1990s.
- The mission of PCAS is to support the perceptual development of children through artistic learning. Our understanding of child perceptual development and the teaching practices that we develop around these ideas was given to us by Rhoda Kellogg. Rhoda was a "psychologist, scholar and child educator who collected and studied children’s art over the course of her lifetime. From 1948 to 1981, Kellogg collected several million drawings made by children, ages 2 through 6, as they scribbled to teach themselves to draw. Kellogg’s thesis was that universal patterns and developmental stages can be found in a study of children’s art." (http://rhodakellogg.com)
- Rhoda Kellogg's developmental stages in art lead us to understand how shapes and compositions are practiced in scribbling, how children extract shapes from early scribbles, how they add shapes together to create more complex forms, how composite forms evolve into contour drawings, etc. Working from the premise that a child's artistic expression naturally progresses in its own way as they grow, PCAS offers a developmentally appropriate and child-centered learning approach. Our studio supports each child's unique art practice by providing them with the creative space, high quality art materials, and the encouragement and support they need to thrive in the studio.
- PCAS is deeply committed to the enriching process of making art over the product that is created. A teacher at PCAS does not direct the children to make art in any specific or 'right' way, nor do we pass judgment on what the children create. A teacher's role at PCAS is to be a resource to the students; introducing new art materials, discussing ideas and themes within art, and demonstrating new art techniques while supporting the students in making the art they want to create. With a growing knowledge of the studio materials and tools, and using the magic of their imaginations, students are able to bring their own stories to life in their art practice. It is this connection between information, exploration, and imaginative directive that creates a powerful learning experience, leading the children to become knowledgeable, confident, and independent both inside and outside the studio environment.
- Through each session of classes, teachers at PCAS look for patterns within each child's body of work. Acknowledging a student's creative process and finding the common thread that connects their pieces allows us to understand the creative choices that a child makes over and over again. Some kids choose a repeating subject, like Maayan's dogs below. Some kids use a repeating color palette, like June's pink and black painting series below. Some kids are deeply curious about exploring the abstract qualities of color and shape and pattern, like Kylie's painting series below. Some kids make art through a framework that is narrative, or conceptual. Some kids really prefer 3-dimensional art making over 2D art, or vice versa. Our most powerful teaching tool at PCAS is the knowledge we gain when we understand a child's creative process, because it allows us to speak directly to each child about their work, giving them the words and language they need to talk about their art. With a deeper perspective of their own art, children are also able to see the unique qualities in the artwork of other children, leading to a general decrease in competition and feelings of inadequacy and leading to a visible increase in their appreciation for everyone's unique creative process.
- Lastly, at PCAS, making art is a process accompanied by joy. We whole-heartedly believe in the power of exploration, play, discovery, and joy as the foundation upon which children begin to build a life-long relationship with art.
The Portland Child Art Studio is blessed to have a fantastic team of teachers and volunteers, as well as a very supportive Board of Directors. Below is a brief introduction to the team that brings this organization to life.
The Portland Child Art Studio was founded, in 2012, by Devon Mitchell, Executive Director, and Hannah Mickunas. Their efforts were guided by Miriam de Uriarte, who founded and directed the Berkeley Child Art Studio in California for over 25 years. Devon Mitchell herself attended the Berkeley Child Art Studio for ten years, beginning at age two. It is this foundational childhood experience in a playful studio environment that inspired her to pursue both an artistic career in painting as an adult as well as to recreate a child art studio in Portland, OR.
Pictured right: Miriam de Uriarte, founder of the Berkeley Child Art Studio, and Devon Mitchell, founder and Executive Director of the Portland Child Art Studio.
OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
- Miriam de Uriarte, our mentor and Vice-President of the Board of Directors, has been professionally involved with the artistic and perceptual development of children for over thirty years. She was the founding director of the Berkeley Child Art Studio for 26 years, from 1970 to 1996, where children between the ages of 2 and 16 experienced the joy and satisfaction of making art. Miriam also worked as an art educator, creating a model child art studio that served as a learning lab for college students, teachers and interns. She has taught at the University of California Extension in Berkeley, and has worked for many years in museum education with museums in California, New York, and Mexico. Miriam currently resides in Guanajuato, Mexico, continuing her work in art programing and anthropology. For more information about Miriam de Uriarte and the Berkeley Child Art Studio, please visit her website at www.miraarte.org
- Wendy Mitchell, President of the Board and Chair of the Fund Development Committee, has a Masters Degrees in Psychology and Education, with a specialty in Child Development. Wendy currently works as the Development and Community Relations Director at the World Forestry Center in Portland, OR. She met Miriam de Uriarte when she dropped off her two-year-old daughter, Devon Mitchell, at the Berkeley Child Art Studio 30 years ago. Wendy is passionate about providing children with the space to be creative and is thrilled to be able to bring PCAS to Portland and carry on Miriam's work.
- Amber Morrison, Secretary, is an advocate of child development through the experience of art. Institutional Giving Development Coordinator at the Oregon Zoo Foundation, Amber is delighted to help provide exciting creative opportunities for Portland's children.
- Jen Fife-Adams has felt the healing power of art in her own life. Her children have been enthusiastic users of the Portland Child Art Studio since the beginning, and she would like to see many more children experience this truly unique space and have an opportunity to feel the magic for themselves!
- Margaret Fivecrows works in graphic design and is the mother to two very passionate little artists. She is deeply committed to supporting and expanding arts education for children in Portland, OR.
- Jason Resch has been teaching for the past 15 years, while simultaneously applying his experience in the advertising, branding, design and marketing industry. Having worked as a Professor at PNCA, Jason now focuses his work as the Career Technical Education Director at Stand for Children, a Portland non-profit who's mission is to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, graduate from high school prepared for, and with access to, college or career training.
- Mia Nicholson is a professional vocalist, erstwhile magazine writer and editor, and the mother of a 12-year-old son. She is passionate about the arts in all forms, for people of all ages.
- Merrit Thompson found her passion for art at a young age. She was initially drawn to PCAS because of the Studio’s mission but quickly grew to love the studio itself and the people who make it possible. Merrit supports PCAS’ child-centered learning approach, and is committed to continuing the work of PCAS. Merrit is the Development and Community Relations Manager for the World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon.