Graceland’s Art Academy (June 10-14 and 17-21) is a week-long arts camp experience for children attending grades 1-12 in southern Iowa and northern Missouri. During the camp, young artists have the opportunity to create paintings, drawings, ceramics, sculpture, prints, and mixed media works under the supervision of Graceland faculty, students and alumni.
Amber McDole has served as the Academy’s director for the past five years and works as Lamoni’s K-12 art teacher during the school year. According to McDole, campers get to “feel like real artists” at the end of the week, when their work is exhibited in the Constance Art Gallery and family members are invited to attend a 2 p.m. reception on Friday, June 14 and 21.
The Academy has grown each year of its existence, beginning as a one-week-per-summer event and later expanding to two weeks. The Academy currently has a staff of seven instructors and seven counselors. It averages about 70 participants per week with 10 to 12 students per class. Campers are assigned a counselor and grouped by age.
The Academy stimulates the creativity of both students and instructors. For McDole, Art Academy is “a great time to share ideas. The art education students are especially innovative with their project ideas and teaching methods. I always come away from the Academy inspired to try new things in my own classroom.”
The Academy is funded by the Dekko Foundation, an organization that funds arts initiatives in Decatur, Clarke, Lucas, Ringgold and Union counties. The Dekko Foundation’s support has allowed the Academy’s enrollment fee to remain at $80, despite the camp’s rising costs. The Foundation has also funded full and partial scholarships to the Academy for talented young artists in financial need, targeting middle grade students who are, according to McDole, at a formative time in their lives: “The scholarships are available for kids who get really excited about art—it’s their spark.”