When fourth graders visit the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in downtown Nashville, it's usually for a field trip. But in this case, the art they'll see is their own.
Some of the greatest artists of all time didn't get their work into museums until long after they died, but some talented 10-year-olds from schools in Williamson and Wilson County have already busted that barrier with their creative work.
Encouragement might be the greatest gift teacher Kelly Selfe gives to her art students at Poplar Grove School in Franklin. What they produce is mostly up to them, and it works.
Levi Christianson's drawings are so good that one now hangs at the Frist Center.
"It was my hybrid animal - a giraffe and shark. I called it a Shiraffe," Christianson said. "I just like using my imagination and creativity when I doodle, and when I figure out what I'm drawing I just put some detail into it."
Twice a week, Selfe's art class stencils or paints in an independent way to challenge and promote an outside-of-the-box type of thinking.
"To give them opportunities where we're not feeding them exactly what to do, they have to explore and have to learn from their own mistakes," Selfe said.
The instructions are more than just "go draw." The assignment list requires more.
"An artist statement, a photo, a nameplate and hybrid rubric," Christianson said. "A lot of work, yeah."
The goal here is not necessarily to discover a new Da Vinci or Picasso, but perhaps an Edison or a Steve Jobs or simply someone unafraid to try or think differently.
"I'm really good at math, and it's my favorite subject. But I love art, too. Art's my second best," Christianson said.
The Frist Center promotes getting involved with art at a young age. Registration is open for summer camps that teach painting, sculpture, photography and more. For more information, visit: http://fristcenter.org/.
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