The Department of Art and Art History’s Art at Cedar Point program has received a $19,340 Teaching and Engagement competitive award from the University of Nebraska’s Rural Futures Institute.
In its third year, Art at Cedar Point has two initial components: an undergraduate studio art course and an artist-in-residence program for arts and creative writing faculty at Nebraska universities and colleges and Nebraska art graduate students. The course and the residency take place each summer at UNL’s Cedar Point Biological Station near Ogallala.
The award will allow the program to add a new service-learning component this summer. Working in partnership with the Ogallala Public School District, new Art at Cedar Point Coordinator Amanda Breitbach will work with four undergraduate art students to develop a summer art camp for area children to be taught at the Cedar Point Biological Station. Breitbach earned a master’s in fine art in photography in May.
“It’s a natural outgrowth of these courses that we have been teaching to have students who want to return and can be the teachers,” said Karen Kunc, Cather Professor of Art and coordinator of the Art at Cedar Point program. “Two of the four students this summer were there last summer with my course. They already have some ideas about the resources and what they can teach to those resources. It makes the cycle complete.”
Having a coordinator position will benefit the program because Breitbach can work on Art at Cedar Point more consistently.
“It’s a good opportunity for me,” Breitbach said. “I learn by building this program up and getting good experience from it. I’m passionate about rural places. I think the people in Ogallala are really excited about the focus we’re trying to bring as more of a community effort and less isolated where it’s just us out at the field station doing our own thing.”
There will be two camps this summer, one for students entering fourth through sixth grades, and another for students entering seventh through ninth grades. The camp will run for three days with each age group meeting for half a day each day.
“The projects we are going to do will utilize the natural environment right around Cedar Point and incorporate natural methods,” Breitbach said.
For one activity, students will make gelatin plates and print with them, using leaves and flowers. They will make stencils and learn about leaf shapes as part of the project. For another, students will study box turtles and the patterns on their shells and then draw sections of the shell patterns.
“There has been this long-running research project on box turtles at Cedar Point, so the students who have been out there wanted to do something with the turtles,” Breitbach said.
In addition to the camps, Art at Cedar Point is collaborating with the Nebraska Game and Parks and the Lake McConaughy Visitors’ Center on a speaker series. Omaha artists Jess Benjamin and Susan Knight will speak at 6 p.m. July 6. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Breitbach said she sees great potential for Art at Cedar Point to become more visible so more artists will want to participate.
“I think this grant is going to help us have a bigger profile and become more visible to the rest of the art department and to everybody else,” she said. “The more we do and the more positive buzz we have around this, the more people will be excited about it and see how they want to take part.”
NU’s Rural Futures Institute mobilizes the diverse resources of the university and its partners to support rural communities and regions in building upon their unique strengths and assets to achieve their desired future results. Their competitive awards program connects partners, campuses and communities and provides seed funding in the areas of either teaching and engagement or research and engagement.
For more information on Art at Cedar Point, click here.