Sally McIntosh’s summer art camp at RMC helps build the next generation of artists. From June 9 to 13, in the grand collegiate art spaces of Technology Hall on the RMC campus, McIntosh and staff offered 22 classes a day to 50 8- to 14-year-olds. Students took home portfolios packed with jewelry, prints, costume designs, kites, drawings and paintings they toiled over all week. But more importantly, they learned the value of process over product; they became artists by learning from working.
A mage of the Billings art scene, McIntosh has refined her Summer Art Academy for 14 years.
“Our 11 teachers are all professional artists,” she said. Tori Waldrip, art teacher at Lewis & Clark Middle School in Billings, joined McIntosh’s first camp years ago at age 10, and now teaches printmaking to campers.
The camp charges tuition, so “people have to really buy into it. Consequently, I get kids who really want to be here,” McIntosh said. Hungry to see healthy role models in art, “suddenly they’re surrounded by like-minded” peers. McIntosh’s advice to them is threefold: “learn new techniques, listen to your teachers, and make a new friend.”
Art is all about relationships, about mutual understanding and elevation; the lonely misunderstood artist is a myth built on the occasional isolation of people who see more intensely than most people do. McIntosh builds her young community of artists by exposing them to artistic peers as well as new practices. She publishes a daily paper for campers to introduce them to one another.
“These are very special friends they make,” she said.
Cruz Martinez, a sophomore at Billings Senior High School, has returned three years and is now a director’s assistant who acts as the master of ceremonies for the student talent show, among other duties.
“I like drawing,” he said. “It’s useful because I’m really involved in theater.”
Cheyenne Allen, 14, traveled from Butte for the camp. She said the hardest part is “getting up in the morning.” Her classes talk about techniques, tools, organizing oneself in a studio and working efficiently.
Parents enjoyed an open studio Friday afternoon. “The environment of the RMC campus is so wonderful,” McIntosh said, because it brims with role models of art and education.
At the Downtown Billings Artwalk on the evening of Aug. 1, Global Village will exhibit artwork from the summer art camp at 2720 Third Ave. N.
This year’s faculty included professional artists Stephen Haraden (acrylics), Mana Lesman (watercolor), Julie Pederson (drawing), Susan Germer (jewelry), Terry Zee Lee and Drake Smith (kites), Tori Waldrip (printmaking), Sarah Brewer (makeup artistry and costume design), Grace Bailey (drawing), Cassy Crafton Kramer (clay), and Grace Frankforter (sculpture).