This week Athens Arts League received approval for a $2,500 grant from Athens Rotary and earlier this year a $1,800 sponsorship from Athens State University for studio space at High Cotton Arts. Athens Arts League operates High Cotton Arts as a non-profit art incubator to offer affordable studio space for artists, art classes for all ages, and free cultural events for the community.
The Athens Rotary grant will fund rental cost for one year a studio space for Athens City and Limestone County schools, Athens Bible School and Lindsay Lane Christian Academy to exhibit and sale student art, host a public art show and allow students to create in a studio setting.
“This will give students the opportunity to share their creations in a professional art facility and work alongside and learn from our resident artists at High Cotton,” said Athens Arts League Chairwoman Amy Golden.
The studio’s usage likely will begin in August when school starts back, although Athens Arts League has invited art teachers who have any student art on hand to exhibit it now. Students can exhibit and sale paintings, ceramics, photography, jewelry and any other art medium.
Amanda Gudmundsson, director of Fine Arts at Athens City Schools, has been collaborating with Athens Arts League since the spring on ways to promote and provide art education for students. During one of the project collaborations, she provided information from the Arts Education Partnership, citing a study completed in 2010 where researchers determined that students who had access to more arts education performed better on standardized tests. The study stated that arts education also improved students’ social skills and motivation levels.
Athens State University students also have their own studio at High Cotton Arts where student artwork is on display and available for purchase. The studio has information for the public about how those seeking art-related degrees can obtain their education through Athens State and the Alabama Center for the Arts.
“Art is inspiring and the stories behind the art are inspiring,” said Athens Arts League Promotions Chair Holly Hollman. “We have an artist in her 80s who has macular degeneration and uses a magnifying glass so she can continue to paint. We have an artist who is autistic and creates thought-provoking pieces. We have a photographer who can save family memories by restoring old and damaged photographs. I am looking forward to what these students will add in way of inspiration.”
In addition, Athens Arts League Program Chair Diane Lehr secured a $2,100 grant from TRAIL to offer art classes to those underserved in the arts. Earlier this week, students from the Boys and Girls Club painted with artist Vickie Camp at a summer art camp.
“It was a treasure to watch the students experiencing the joy of expressing themselves through art,” Lehr said.
TRAIL is a philanthropic youth board consisting of students from the Limestone County area. The funding TRAIL provided will also fund art classes for foster children and art classes and supplies for the East Limestone High School art survey students.