The Young Artists Workshop is in its fifth year of introducing visual arts to Hamblen County elementary students. The program is funded through a Tennessee Art Commission “Arts Building Communities” matching grant, applied for by Morristown East High art teacher, Carol Rouse.

The grant has been successfully applied for and received five times in an effort to expose and share visual arts with students due to budget cuts that resulted in lack of funding for visual arts teachers in the county’s elementary schools.

With the support of HC*EXCELL Arts Build Skills leaders Deb Miksa and Stan Harville, along with HCBOE superintendent Dr. Jeff Perry, members of the Morristown Art Association, Rose Center, and GFWC ladies Reading Circle, Rouse saw this opportunity happening through the Tennessee Art Commission’s grant, “Art Building Communities.”

The grant program provided matching (1:1) funding, to begin a much needed youth art program for Kindergarten through sixth grade students currently enrolled in the Hamblen County school system. The purpose of the program was to target diversity of youths with a quality experience that teach specific artistic skills and personal growth. The program was designed to increase self-esteem, academic performance, and social skills of elementary and middle school students.

Most of all, according to Rouse, the program, was created to introduce students with quality art experiences that teach specific skills in drawing, painting, ceramics, printmaking, sculpture, photography, and encourages personal growth.

The principal, teacher, and guidance counselor of each elementary and middle school gave students schedule information with an interest in participating in an eight week after school program at no cost at the Rose Center starting at 4:30 pm to 5:30 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays. The program was divided into two sessions: first through third grade and fourth through sixth grade, along with an art show of student art projects held at the end of each session.

Last year was a successful year with an increased attendance. This year the first session Kindergarten thru third grade attendance was 65 students. Even more students attended the second session, which began April 2.

Rouse attributes the success of the program to private and corporative donations, other small grants, along with the Tennessee Arts Commission grant monies, which funds the cost of supplies and visiting professional artists.

The after-school program was designed with the state visual arts curriculum and standards, and Rouse also included professional teaching artists such as Dan Gibson, Mike Everidge, Jim Palmer, Frances Maynard, Carmalitta Freeman Barbour and Bill Sturdivant.

“The students were excited to meet artists and view their artwork,” Rouse said. “The objectives of this program will strengthen student engagement, art appreciation, and self-confidence through the arts and build creativity and problem solving skills in academics.”

Famous artist Georgia O’Keeffe began her art career as an art teacher in a public school system in Texas and she believed that art has the power to transform lives.

O’Keeffe stated, “We have seen that art can open minds and plant seeds for bigger dreams in children. When the world seems to say to a child, ‘you have nothing,’ participation in art gives a child a voice to reply, ‘Look at what I have created, I am a part of something big.’”

Rouse said she believes that children do express their selves, idea, and dreams through their artwork which leads to building self-esteem and academic growth.