MATTHEWS – “Every child can learn how to draw” – that belief has inspired Linda Shaw to bring art education to children in the community through KidzArt for 13 years.
And the children currently enrolled in Shaw’s classes will have the chance to show off their work this weekend during the KidzArt End-of-Year Extravaganza. The drop-in art show will take place Sunday, May 18, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the McDowell Arts Center, 123 McDowell St. Refreshments will be served, and people will have the opportunity to see the studio and view the kids’ work.
“There will probably be about 75 plus (students) exhibiting down here,” Shaw said. “… I think it’s really cool to see all the good art coming out of this program. It’s just a nice way to end the school year.”
KidzArt is an international franchise that offers art classes, camps, workshops, birthday parties and more. Shaw became the first franchisee 13 years ago.
“When I started this, I didn’t even know how this was going to take off,” Shaw said. “I feel like I’ve found a niche” in the Matthews community.
Shaw hosts three classes each week at the McDowell Arts Center: a 4:30 p.m. class on Tuesdays, a 3 p.m. class on Thursdays and a 10 a.m. class on Saturdays. The classes are geared toward students in kindergarten through fifth grade, and children come from Matthews and beyond to participate in a different drawing project each week. The program also is prorated, so kids can start attending at any time.
But Shaw doesn’t limit KidzArt to the Matthews community; she takes the program to various schools each week, including Antioch and Weddington elementary schools in Union County and Lansdowne Elementary School in Charlotte, among others. All of her classes focus on teaching kids “how to see like an artist and draw what you see,” rather than “copycat drawing”
“When you just hear ‘children and art,’ you think popsicle sticks,” she said. “… We know kids can do a lot more than what most people think they can do. When you teach them and challenge them, their confidence just explodes.”
Eight-year-old Gabriella McHarg is one of those children. Gabriella, who takes KidzArt classes at the McDowell Arts Center, always enjoyed art but never knew how well she could really draw until she honed her skills through the program.
“I’ve always been good, but not that good,” she said. Through KidzArt, she’s learned to concentrate on the lines she’s drawing – something that not only makes her work better, but makes it easier to draw, as well. “It makes me feel better because I know I can actually draw.”
Because Shaw has been in the business for 13 years, she’s seen former students go on to pursue degrees in art design, art therapy, graphic design and more. And though not all of her students end up majoring in art, Shaw believes KidzArt teaches them creativity and techniques that will help them no matter what career path they choose.
“I want them to function artistically. It might come out in their garden, how to arrange their house,” Shaw said. “The question is, ‘Are we raising creative people in our community?’ We’ve got to have them.”
KidzArt will offer a number of summer camps over the next several months including an “Art Trekking Our World” program, which will teach children about the cultures of Japan and South Africa “from an artist’s perspective.” Find more information at www.matthews.kidzart.com.