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Demopolis Library Receives Art Grants

The Democrat Reporter of Linden, Alabama

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The Friends of the Demopolis Public Library are excited to receive a $500 Ezra Jack Keats Mini Grant and a $3,000 Black Belt Community Foundation Arts Initiative Grant.

"Art does not solve problems, but makes us aware of their existence," sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz has said. Arts education, on the other hand, does solve problems. Years of research show that it's closely linked to almost everything that we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity. Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill. Arts learning can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork.

The grants will be used for "Read, Think, Create!", programs for children and teens that combine visual art with literature. Local artist Kirk Brooker will teach a class on Tuesday, July 7 from 2-4 p.m. for students entering 3rd-5th grades and on Tuesday, July 28 from 2-4 p.m. for teens entering 6th-9th grades. Kirk's classes will incorporate the book It Jes' Happened When Bill Traylor Started to Draw. Traylor was an African-American self-taught artist from Lowndes County, Alabama. Born into slavery, Traylor spent the majority of his life after emancipation as a sharecropper. It was only after 1939, following his move to Montgomery, Alabama that Traylor began to draw. At the age of 85, he took up a pencil and a scrap of cardboard to document his recollections and observations. From 1939 to 1942, while working on the sidewalks of Montgomery, Traylor produced nearly 1,500 pieces of art.

Sierra Goldman, from the Art Center in Demopolis, will teach two classes featuring the author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats on Thursday, July 23. From 1:30-3 p.m. she will teach children ages 5-8 and from 3:00-4:30 p.m. she will teach ages 9-18. Jack Keats was an American author and illustrator of children's books. Keats was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. on March 11, 1916. He illustrated jackets for adult and juvenile books and provided drawings for almost a dozen children's books. He is the author of The Snowy Day (1962), a recipient of the Caldecott Medal and one of the first picture books in which the central character is a minority child.

Keats used cut-out and gouache collage to create city scapes that carry a strong dose of urban reality: grime, graffiti, and a lot of energy. He also wrote for the under-five audience in Whistle for Willie (1966), Peter's Chair (1967), Goggles (1969), and Apt. 3 (1971), which focus on learning new things — how to whistle, outwit a tougher kid, or cope with emotion. Keats died at the age of 67 on May 6, 1983.We feel blessed as a library to receive these grants", says library director and Two Rivers Arts Council President Morgan Allen. "Amanda Barnes from the Demopolis City School Foundation encouraged the library to apply for the Ezra Jack Keats grant and was instrumental in helping us plan for both grants. We plan to continue these art classes throughout the school year and want to reach as many young people in our community as possible. Our goal is to have art and literature help connect our community to the world and open them to new ways of seeing.

The classes are free, but due to limited space in each class, you must register to attend. To register, call Kathy or Sandy on the children's floor at 334.289.1595.

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Original Publication Date: July 2, 2015

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