Through an exhibition at the Booth's Borderlands Gallery through Jan. 8, youth from the Boys & Girls Clubs' Cartersville Unit and the Hands of Christ afterschool program are displaying works developed in the museum's Kids Cowboy Up! initiative. In its eighth year, the offering consists of a combination of on-site activities and, when possible, visits to the Cartersville museum.
"Literally their body language [changes]," Gilley said, referring to the young artists' reactions during previous exhibit receptions. "They're there with fellow members, staff members, board members, families and a lot of them are speechless. It's so heartwarming to see them, and the Booth is so selfless of giving them this exposure, not only [visiting us] here on site but this annual exhibit -- it's six, seven weeks -- and the kids just love, love seeing it.
"They run over and point at the wall and say, 'That's mine,' and their name's plastered all over the place. And then they have a nice reception and then it culminates with Peggy [Cline] and her staff sending about 25 to 30 works, local winners, onto our regional and national competition [with the] Boys & Girls Clubs of America. We've had two national winners, which [for] a club our size is phenomenal."
In addition to viewing the children's artwork through Jan. 8, the public is invited to meet the young artists at a reception in the Borderlands Gallery today from 5 to 7 p.m. Consisting of 77 pieces, the exhibition features a wide range of mediums, some of which are sculpture, pottery, printmaking, drawing, collage and painting.
Immediately following the gathering, Kyle Sims and Kyle Polzin -- whose works are included in the Booth's Western American Art South of the Sweet Tea Line III exhibition -- will discuss their careers and artwork.
"As for the kids, [the purpose of the program] is introducing them to the museum and the artwork," Booth Education Assistant Peggy Cline said, adding Kids Cowboy Up! serves about 300 youth ages 5 through 18. "They just really have a good time. They get to come and go on tours at the museum and see new exhibits.
"Then they get to do artwork based on the exhibits they saw at the museum. But it's [primarily about] exposing them to art and hopefully they'll have a lifelong interest in art from doing this program. That's what our hope is."
Unlike the Boys & Girls Clubs, the Hands of Christ program is privy to transportation, enabling students to visit the museum throughout the school year. After each group tours an exhibit at the Booth, Cline visits the Hands of Christ children and leads an art project. The hands-on activities that are conducted at both organizations correlate to artwork in the museum, such as making collages relating to the special exhibit, Stan Natchez: Indian without Reservation.
"It's beautiful, large paintings with collage work," Cline said, describing Natchez's exhibit. "He has large dollar bills and Indians painted over it. I did several projects with the kids with that. With the older kids, they picked different backgrounds. It would be maps or money or different things like that they would put on the back and then they painted an actual Indian over it. So there was different layers, and then [with] the other ones we did all these different photographs of Native Americans. They cut those out and they painted watercolors over them and they cut it out in the shape of a buffalo. Then they put that on a gold background.
"They're very similar. If you've seen Stan Natchez's exhibit, when you see those you'll definitely know what inspired the students' artwork. They had a good time with that. That was a lot of fun. They loved the bright colors. And with the Hands of Christ, Stan Natchez was actually at the museum and he gave a tour for the high school group, and he was wonderful. He dressed up all in his regalia and he really connected with the students. They really enjoyed getting to meet the artist. That was wonderful. Then they got to do the art project based on his artwork the next week."
For more information about the Kids Cowboy Up! Art Exhibition, call the museum at 770-387-1300.