For the second year, Hamilton students served as mentors to Clinton Middle School students who are participating in Olympics of the Visual Arts (OVA). OVA is a state-wide competition where middle schoolers have the opportunity to participate in longer term art projects outside of the classroom.
Projects this year fell into six art categories: fashion design, graphic design, drawing, sculpture, painting and architecture. The program began in the late fall with the students brainstorming, conceptualizing and visual problem solving, all leading up to the competition that will be held on April 21 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Beginning last year, Hamilton students interested in the arts have gone to the Clinton school three days a week to provide support, feedback and inspiration to their middle school counterparts. The students are paired up with a section such as graphic design or architecture and stay with that group for the rest of the project. The exchange of ideas and methods of conceptualization helps both the college and the middle school students to engage with the project.
Because OVA is an after-school program, most of the materials the middle school students use are scrap left lying around or scrounged up from families. This year, for the first time, Clinton’s OVA program was able to buy new materials.
In the fall, with the help of the Wellin Initiative for Student Engagement, the mentorship program raised about $500 dollars for art supplies for the middle school. Some of the art supplies bought were typical items such as foam core, jewelry wire, glitter and good quality paint. Less common items included wooden dowels, rope and faux moss. This enabled the students to produce projects more consistent with their vision and give them a greater chance of winning the competition.
The Hamilton mentors enjoyed their experiences with OVA. “Their [the OVA mentees] ideas are also really refreshing and the kids are so responsive to my advice. The OVA program has been a great experience for me and is something I'd like to continue with,” said Connor Crutchfield ’17, a varsity lacrosse player and an art minor. He worked with the students in the drawing section, helping them to build and design a zoetrope (an early form of animation that involves pictures drawn or painting onto a circular object that is then spun. When the zoetrope is spinning, it creates a small, looping animation).
The OVA program isn’t just about producing the best artwork possible, though. It’s also about building community, learning to work with one’s hands, and having fun.