High school students participate in summer art and design camp

East Carolina University’s first residential summer art and design camp tailored specifically for high school students attracted more than 50 students across a tri-state area June 16-21.

ECU art instructor Noelle Gunn works with a camp participant.

Each had the opportunity to explore their creativity, develop new skills, learn about potential careers and meet new people in morning and afternoon sessions in the ECU School of Art and Design in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center. The students lived in White Hall for the week, which ended with a showcase of what students made and keepsakes to take home.

Animation, digital and darkroom photography, textile design, sculpture, graphic design, film and video, and sculptural paper were taught by experienced instructors led by ECU camp director Daniel Kariko and assistant director Robert Quinn.

Rising high school seniors Catherine “Rin” Kelley, of Fairfax County, Virginia, and Brenna Wilson, of Holly Springs, created characters in the animation studio.

“I thought this would be cool because I can get a taste of what a college campus looks like, and what I could actually do if I was on a college campus and doing art,” Kelley said. “I’m doing stuff that I’ve never done before. I like it a lot. And it’s nice to meet other people who do art because I don’t have that many friends who do art or want to do art.”

Kariko said art students are often the minority in their high schools. “They are not necessarily surrounded with everybody else that’s creative, so these types of camps are really allowing them to see that there are other people like them, and enjoy the process, reinforce their belief in ‘hey, this is what I’m about and what I’m doing,’” he said. “I think that’s primarily why these types of camps function really well. This is oriented to their specific interests.”

ECU assistant professor Hilary Huskey, left, helps Brenna Wilson with a question about her animation. Rin Kelley draws her character next to Wilson.

Wilson said she wanted to attend the camp because she wants to pursue an art career. “One of the most marketable is graphic design, so I wanted to take a graphic design class and there aren’t many where I am,” she said. “I wanted to come see what a college graphic design class looks like and kind of get a head start.”

Each participant chose, designed and drew their own character using Photoshop and Illustrator software. “I’m usually doing digital art like this, drawing feminine characters. I like to play with the fashion, and I like to make dresses based on a flower or an animal,” Wilson said.

“I thought of the spiky hair style because I’ve been watching ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘Bring It On,’ and I thought something from the early 2000s would be fun,” she said about her character. “I tried to add a little of the ‘Mean Girls’ character too, kind of the rude girl at high school. I don’t draw many expressions, so I wanted to play with that.”

“You can see that we all did something different,” Kelley said. “I was going to make him silly, but it didn’t turn out that way. I’ve been rereading and watching ‘Lord of the Rings’ lately, so that’s kind of where the idea came from. I don’t usually draw monsters, but I thought I could test one out.”

ECU student Logan Poe, a senior from Charlotte who served as an animation assistant, said she would have loved to have been able to attend a high school arts summer camp like this one. She hopes to eventually work behind-the-scenes as a character designer or in prop design.

Photography students take portraits outside Jenkins Fine Arts Center.

“Animation is very closely related to my major, which is illustration, so I’m having fun watching them get used to the programs here and the process of bringing their sketches into 3D models,” Poe said. “It gives them a little bit of a leg up in the program and getting used to the software. Getting to know some of how you work around here would be good for upcoming students and getting the feel for what it’s like being an art student here, because it’s very similar to the usual classes.”

Sessions were being taught at college freshman level, Kariko said.

Animation was one of the most popular, which were offered in both morning and afternoon sessions to accommodate interest. Hilary Huskey, ECU assistant professor of animation and interactive design, taught the sessions.

“When we’re becoming artists, we are kind of relying on our experiences growing up. Their art now is animated. Their art now is games, digital technology and digital environments,” Kariko said.

In the textile design studio, Clara Menzo of Cary was using strips of cloth to surround a baby face that she sculpted, which was inspired by her newborn cousin. Menzo recently graduated from Longleaf School of the Arts in Raleigh and will be attending ECU this fall.

She chose ECU after hearing many of her teachers, who are ECU alumni, talk about their great experience and memories along with other people she knew who went to ECU.

After visiting campus, Menzo really liked the art and environment. She wanted to attend summer camp to test what an actual class would look like. “I’m very excited,” she said.

Menzo said she has wanted to do animation since she was a kid but has been considering other disciplines. “Right now, I’m just here looking for art and doing art, and I know I’m going to go in one way or the other. I don’t know which direction, but I’m definitely going to do something with art,” she said.