WMU News

Camp provides opportunity for visually impaired students to create and present art

August 4, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- Visually-impaired youth, aged 10 to 17, will participate in stone carving, sculpting, story telling and drama during a special art education camp to be held Aug. 9-13 near Greenville, Mich. The works completed by participants and instructors at the camp will be showcased in a three-week September exhibition in Kalamazoo.

The first Art Education Camp for Youths with Visual Impairments will be held Sunday through Thursday, Aug. 9-13, on the grounds of Camp Tuhsmeheta at 10500 Lincoln Lake Road, near Greenville. The camp is the result of a grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs to the Michigan Foundation for the Blind. Dr. Paul E. Ponchillia, professor of blind rehabilitation at Western Michigan University, and Helen Lee, coordinator of WMU's Low Vision Clinic, wrote the grant proposal and will direct the camp.

"It's a residential camp, so kids will come from all over the state and stay. It has a West Michigan priority, however," Ponchillia says. According to Ponchillia, 20-25 students are expected, and five students from the former Soviet Union nation of Belarus may be attending the camp.

"Arctic People and Culture" is the camp's theme, with traditional Inuit art forms being taught by experienced professionals in the arts. The camp will open with a presentation of Inuit stone carving by Mary Anne Rivers of the Dennos Museum of Traverse City, the largest holder of Inuit stone sculpture in the nation. Rivers has studied Inuit culture on several trips to the Arctic.

Sculpting instruction will be provided by Lee, Ponchillia and other West Michigan artists including Mike Donenfeld, Anne Landry and Brian Young. Dan and Ike Runyon of the Magical Rain Theater Works will coach drama. Larry Plamandon, an area Native-American story-teller, will share his expertise in that medium.

The camp will culminate with a presentation of sculpture, storytelling and a theater production from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13. The event is free and open to the public.

After the camp, the works of both students and instructors will be displayed in a "Touch First Exhibit" scheduled for September at two Kalamazoo locations. The student art exhibit will open with a 5 to 7 p.m. reception Friday, Sept. 11, at the World Tree Multi-Cultural Center for Peace, Justice and Mother Earth, 246 N. Kalamazoo Mall. The instructor art exhibit will start the same day with a 5 to 7 p.m. reception at WMU's Unified Clinics, 1000 Oakland Drive. Both display areas will feature soapstone and clay sculptures and the exhibit will continue through Oct. 1.

For more information on the camp, contact Ponchillia at (616) 387-3449 or Lee at (616) 387-3456. For additional information and assistance in arranging coverage, call Cheryl Roland in WMU Marketing, Public Relations and Communications at (616) 387-8400.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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