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Local Creative Artists Pitch in for Room 13 at Eliot School – One of Only Two Innovative Art After-School Projects in the U.S.

April 2nd, 2009 by Temple City Tribune

cute kid Cheyenne Goddard, 12, is into Japanese animation and is a big fan of BIZ Media. Her goal at the ripe old age of twelve is be an animator for that company.

Cheyenne was one of about 20 plus students when we visited the program last Thursday. She explained to us what this class meant to her as she drew an animated girl on the back of this reporter’s notepad. Cheyenne said, without stopping to look up while she was drawing, that this was what she hopes to do when she gets out of school. Judging from the style she already has, she’s well on the way to becoming a successful artist in her chosen field.
If room 13 offers anything, it might just open the doors for this talented young artist to pursue her dreams.
11 Year old Matt Klein was working on a watercolor and said “ It’s cool up here “ referring to the Classroom 13. “My regular art teacher (during the school day)  is great but a bit more strict than Room 13.” Klein added. He said he gained a great deal of knowledge from Patty Hurley as he watched here do landscapes and with her encouragement, created his own.

Room 13 is based on four cornerstones principals: 1 Creative Freedom and Expression. 2. Philosophical Inquiry. 3. Business practices and 4. Reciprocal learning.

young artThe original idea for Room 13 came via young Scottish artist Robert Farley, who hoped to have a creative, unstructured art class after school.  Seems simple enough, but many school districts across the world have strict rules and guidelines that they have to follow that limit what art teachers can and cannot do.
The 6th – 8th grade students at Eliot School on Lake Avenue were immersed in the program for two weeks before they started to attend two days a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
It all began in 1994 when a group of students established their own art studio in Room 13, Caol Primary School near Fort William, Scotland.

They ran the studio as a business, raising funds to buy art materials and employ a professional artist in residence to work with them.

rm13 Slowly and organically, Room 13 grew to establish a network of such studios throughout the UK and abroad.
Drawing on the talents of the many skilled individuals who associate with the international studio network, Room 13 now offers professionally run courses and creative workshops, painting holidays, expeditions, training and all manner of creative development for ‘adults of all ages.’
Room 13 offers a unique experience which aims to be different, challenging, engaging and above all, fun.
Room 13 is a social enterprise organization which encompasses an expanding network of linked studios worldwide.
Surrounding these studios is an international community of artists, educators, thinkers and other professionals who share their work and their thinking.

While we were visiting the class last week, a local artist, Don Watson, stopped by to see first hand,  what all the fun was about.  So excited was this cartoon set artist,  who worked on the original Flintstones  ( among others) during the golden era of cartooning, that he offered his services as a guest art teacher. He showed those in attendance on Thursday how a sponge is used in painting some backgrounds.
The founding members of Room 13 at Eliot School in the PUSD school district are Paddy Hurley and Tom Coston of the Lightbringer Project and Jessica and Andrew Edelstein of Project Design Studio who are Artistic Directors. These four individuals have set the creative juices flowing in these young minds starting Feb 23.

13art "It’s the one thing that’s not part of the structured school day, that offers the students ownership over their own time, their own creative expression, and, ultimately, their own learning." – said Patricia Hurley, managing Director of Room 13.

"Being able to put in a creative studio at a school that is ready for it, is our quest. But it costs money to do that, in people and materials. And we are hoping that individuals and contributors support this initiative and its value in the school culture." -Tom Coston, President

Once studios are set up, they become self-sustaining, with a little help from artist friends and art lovers in the community.

Jessica and Andrew Edelstein of Project Design Studio are Artistic Directors for Room 13 USA. Jessica also represents tbwa/chiat/day who is a supporter of the Room 13 initiative worldwide.
Andrew Edelstein showed us a unique portfolio of digital photo portraits that the students had shot themselves of their peers using available light. Edlestein set up a camera on a tripod and the rest was essentially up to the kids. The stunning results would make any professional see the wonderful artistic potential in these young teens. The students were excited with not only photography but the way the images show their individual character.  The images stood out more  than the conventional generic “school portrait”  public schools tend to use for their yearbooks. 

Edelstein has big plans for the photographs these students create.  He hopes to encourage the students and powers that be in the school board to allow the students the self expression to use their images in the yearbooks and eventually get away from the forula photographs that are associated with the companies that shoot school portraits on contract basis.

Anyone who wishes to know more about the program should visit:  www.lightbringerproject.com, or www.room13scotland.org or call Patricia Hurley locally at 626.590.1134. They are always in need of art supplies so anything you donate would be most welcome.

By Terry Miller

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