Mike Gillies, a Georgia Military College art instructor, is leading the Art Hub Summer Art Program, a six-day art enrichment camp for children in the community being held at Georgia Military College’s Warner Robins Campus July 16-18 and 20-24.
Occupation: Assistant art professor, Georgia Military College
Q: You’re leading a distinctive art program for kids this summer — what is it and who’s putting it on?
A: It’s a six-day art enrichment camp for children in the community that we’re doing at Georgia Military College’s Warner Robins Campus July 16-18 and 20-24. We’re calling it the Art Hub Summer Art Program.
Q: Who is it for?
A: Children in the community we’ve identified who can benefit from some extra, hands-on art instruction. Kids that’ve shown a measure of artistic leanings, kids who are artistically inclined. They’re coming mostly from, but not strictly from, Title I school neighborhoods.
Q: That tends to represent lower income neighborhoods, so you’re mainly working to offer them a unique chance at summer art?
Q: How many are involved?
A: Twenty students and we have two other instructors lined up. That way they’ll get good, personal attention.
Q: What areas of art will they be working in?
A: We’ll start with a sculpture-ceramic-pottery project and move along to drawing skills, colored pencils, watercolor and tempera paints. We might do some tie dying and let them make a T-shirt, too.
Q: Will the public get to see the outcome?
A: Yes. Student’s framed work will be on display for a while at the Middle Georgia Fine Arts Society Gallery at 149 S. Commercial Circle. There will be a special show and reception July 28 from 1 to 4 p.m. Students and parents will come and the public is welcome. We’ll be doing another reception and hang their work at GMC on a date yet to be determined.
Q: How did you select participants?
A: Louise McBride, a retired teacher and member of the Fine Arts Society, helped a lot to identify possible students and so did the Curtis family of the Curtis Event Center. They been very supportive and have a camp going this summer. Some of our participants came from there.
Q: How did this get going?
A: Honestly, it started from a conversation at a show at West End Frames between Carmen Antonio, who runs West End, and Louise McBride. Both are Fine Arts Society members and I am, too. The society is sponsoring the camp and partnering with GMC. They were talking about doing something like this and I walked up and said if they did, I’d be happy to teach. Another society member, Linda Frazier, wrote a proposal and we got a grant from Cox Communications to actually do it.
Q: And GMC came on board?
A: Yeah. GMC, where I teach, was really happy to get behind it and said we could use GMC facilities like the art room and studio lab. We’re a community college with a goal of serving the community and this is a great way. Our slogan is “Start Here ... Go Anywhere!” and to me this fits right in. My goal is we not only teach but encourage these kids during Art Hub that the arts are something they can go to school and learn about and it can give them a great, real-life career as an artists, graphic designer or any number of other roles. For a kid to have their eyes opened in that way can be a game changer.
Q: Plus, it obviously fits some of the society’s goals.
A: It does. People look at Warner Robins and seemingly there’s not a lot of art going on but there is. Reaching out to kids like this is not only evidence of an active art community but shows how art can play a positive role in children’s and student’s lives and ability to do well in school and life. It also relates to the local idea of downtown development and revitalization which we are big on. The arts can play a vital part in that happening.
Q: You mentioned other instructors, who are they?
A: Former GMC students Tedra Rogers and Daila Allen are coming back to help.
Q: Are you originally from Middle Georgia?
A: No, I was an Army brat and moved all over. I came here from Florida to teach in the Houston County school system. I began teaching in an adjunct role at GMC and have worked full time there for three years. Our studio art program is in its second year and it took a year to develop it.
Q: We’re talking a lot about shows, how about your own work?
A: I have a show starting this month at West End Frames with a reception July 27 from 6 to 9. It’s of recent works: landscapes in oils and acrylics done in a style called inscapes or internalized landscapes. It allows playing with the actual landscapes I see in front of me by bringing in my general knowledge of landscapes and using various elements compositionally. It’s a little abstract but you can still tell a tree is a tree.
Q: Will you be encouraging your Art Hub students to go see your work?
A: We might do a field trip or something. It might be good for them to make the connection.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at email@example.com.