Library debuts summer arts program

Marathon Public Library Assistant Bailey Barlow prepares summer art program materials for distribution to students. 

One of the greatest assets a person can have is creativity, and it’s difficult to imagine childhood without art.

Engaging children in creative pursuits plays a major role in nurturing many areas of development, and the Marathon Public Library is there to offer the Children’s Summer Art Program. Children can participate in this online educational program from the comfort of their own homes.

Erin Albright, Marathon Public Library Board of Directors president, said the program was launched to fill the gap in the fine arts curriculum in the Marathon public schools.

“There is a limited program at the elementary school, and in our junior high and high schools students have no art curriculum. So this gives them that creative outlet,” said Albright.

The new program launched this week, and the weekly lessons will continue until the end of July. Self-taught artist and Marathon Elementary kindergarten art teacher Melissa Barlow leads the program. Students will stop by the library each week to pick up the materials they need for their project, and Barlow will post the instructional videos on an exclusive YouTube channel featuring on-demand sessions that can be viewed in the students’ own time.

Each weekly lesson features a new theme consisting of age appropriate projects in drawing, painting, and weaving. Every lesson has offers skill levels - primary, for children ages three to seven, and intermediate, for ages eight and up. There are also enrichment options for younger children, such as one- and two-year-olds.

The session starts off with drawing, then moves on to painting with acrylics and tempera paint, followed by watercolor, collage, clay, sculpture, and wooden assemblage.

Albright explained that the primary emphasis was for art to be an all-inclusive experience where children can draw things from their everyday experiences, such as insects, along with varied activities like coil weaving with cotton bundles. This makes the entire learning experience fun and engaging for children. 

“The instructor will have a creative and artistic conversation with the children, and really give them an opportunity to open up that part of their mind. It allows their creativity to flow, and enables them to express themselves,” said Albright.

There has been positive feedback from community members, some of whom have reached out to Library Director Dara Cavness to inquire about the program. Albright said she would also be interested in possibly having a community-wide art show where the students’ artwork would be displayed on the storefronts along Main Street.

Barlow is enthusiastic about all the support the program has received, and looks forward to working with the young artists in Marathon.

“What is so great is just allowing those creative experiences, allowing these kids to expose who they are in a creative outlet. I know that a lot of times, we are so focused on academics and sports,” said Barlow. “I support all of that, but I’m just so excited about letting these kids explore and experience some things that they may have never done.”

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