It has been said by those who know her that Kate Carlson, the artist, has a creative spirit that simply won't retire. Thirty-two years of art education in Connecticut, Illinois and Indiana have indeed prevented her creative flair from fading. In 2001, after receiving the honor of Outstanding Art Educator, Carlson retired from a teaching position in Indiana and moved to the Brainerd lakes area.
Getting settled and making a new home took some time, but Carlson remembers that it wasn't long before she recognized a void gnawing at her spirit. I loved the natural beauty of the lakes and forest that we were living in, but I was desperately missing the students and the environment of an art room. I was also feeling the loss of no longer sharing artistic and cultural events with good friends. I began looking for solutions in my new neighborhood ... and I found them.
Kate Carlson posed at the Franklin Arts Center, in The Crossing Arts Alliance sales gallery in Brainerd, with last year's "Screamer Sculptures," created by area youths. In Screamer Camp, children are encouraged to use their imagination to create their own cute and creepy sculptures.
In December of 2001, Carlson began exploring opportunities offered at what is now the Franklin Arts Center. In the spring of 2002, Carlson supported the Crossing Arts Alliance's Heritage Festival by teaching children how to make Wampum Beads and Native American necklaces. That is how the Brainerd lakes' good fortune began as Carlson found ways to invest her talent, energy and passion for Children and Art into her new community - our community.
Flipside a lively and fun-filled effort began bringing children and adults together on Saturday mornings for Arty Parties and artistic exposure that Carlson believes to be crucial if children are to grow up appreciating and believing in the arts. To support and encourage children in all of their creative endeavors continues to be the mission of Flipside. Screamer Camp is the most recent opportunity that Carlson is promoting. During this activity, students are encouraged to use their imagination as they create their own cute and creepy sculptures. In addition to organizing activities where students create and produce artistic works, Carlson also is determined to have that student artwork publicly displayed. The Franklin Arts Center, Brainerd Family YMCA, the Paul Bunyan Nature Learning Center and the Northland Arboretum have all been venues where Carlson has displayed student art work for the community to enjoy and appreciate
Her own enthusiasm and devotion to art came to life in a one-room schoolhouse in Braham. Lined paper and No. 2 pencils were Carlson's earliest and only tools as her passion for drawing was declared. Carlson recalls filling the margins of her books with elaborate illustrations and sharing her techniques with both older and younger classmates as they admired her work.
Growing up in rural Minnesota exposed Carlson to responsibility, hard work and few extravagances. However, Carlson's parents recognized that their young daughter had an uncommon talent for drawing and arranged for her to have private art lessons. Carlson relates, It was then that I was introduced to pastels and colored pencils. To this day I can remember the fragrance of the pastels and the excitement I felt blending colors on 'real' art paper. My instructor supplied good materials and challenged me with artistic problems to solve in my own way. The process always included encouragement and positive critiquing. I drew upon that experience as I began to develop my own teaching style.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, Every artist was first an amateur. Carlson probably would agree that many artists do harbor a dream they never articulate, even to themselves. Perhaps they dream that someone will one day say to them, You are a real artist.
When I asked Carlson about her dreams, she paused for just a moment and then said, I like what Picasso said ... 'Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.' Carlson's dream is to help more children become real artists before they grow up.
Note: Kate Carlson is involved in many events that feature kids and art, including the Young at Art Exhibit in April and the Summer Art Camp in June. For those children who want to make art, the Crossing Arts Alliance Summer Art Camp is a great low-cost opportunity to learn from real artists, discover your talents in exploration of various art techniques and also have fun. Carlson, as camp director, is busy planning to make this one even better than last year's huge success. Watch for upcoming information on the arts events and registration for camp. If you are concerned about missing the call for registration, call the TCAA office (218) 833-0416 in late April or early May.
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