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Turning around America’s young artists

By Staff | Jul 25, 2014

A pair of art educators visited Shepherdstown last week on a voyage to “turn around America,” through children’s art programming.

Jennifer Moller and Beth Ireland arrived in Shepherdstown last Wednesday with their camper called “the Sanctuary,” a mobile art workshop for kids.

“This is a moving classroom basically,” Moller said

The pair were invited by resident Richard Anderson after he contributed to a fundraiser for “the Sanctuary” project

Lilina Bauer, Children’s Librarian said the Shepherdstown Library agreed to host the week of activities when Anderson approached library director Hali Taylor.

“We are doing a science theme this summer,” Bauer said.

“We thought it would fit well with the theme, by using science in a more creative way.”

Bauer said the library chose the weeks activities from the various “Turning Around America” offerings.

Printmaking, woodworking, bookmaking, and stop motion animation were all chosen as projects for the local kids.

“This is our maiden voyage,” Moller said.

“This is the first time the Sanctuary has been able to get pulled out of the driveway.” she said.

Ireland explained that as part of the Sanctuary’s fundraiser the pair agreed to visit any small-town where major contributors lived.

The pair has been traveling around doing similar projects few the last few years.

“We’ve done many projects,” Ireland said.

“We went to Guatemala and taught a village to use woodworking tools.”

“It started as a woodworking project,” she explained.

“I just traveled in a van,”

After traveling 30,000 miles and teaching 3000 people for a year, Ireland said the team decided to bring “the Sanctuary” to light.

“When I got back we decided to make it into a bigger project,” she said.

“We could just see as artists that people were losing the actual ability of skills to make things.”

“It was frightening to us,” she said.

“Our goal is empower people though the art of hand making.”

Ireland said the mobile studio or “Sanctuary” allows for greater outreach than ever before.

“We can actually go to any town-USA who doesn’t have an art program and teach art,” she said.

About 10 Shepherdstown students visited the pair each morning, with younger students visiting throughout the day for multiple sessions.

Setting up shop across form the Shepherdstown Post Office Thursday through Saturday. Moller and Ireland were able to take in the town and meet many residents who stopped by to say hello.

“Everybody has just been so nice,” Ireland said.

“Also, quite honestly, these kids are amazing,” she said.

More information about Turning Around America and the Sanctuary Project can be found by visitiing www.turningaroundamerica.com.