It is central to the YAWS philosophy that every person is an artist with his or her own important artistic style and vision. To encourage a diverse group of children to discover their artistic voices, YAWS offers free or low-cost art classes. These classes are Fine Art for Kids for pre-K and elementary school students and Young Artists Studio, for middle and high school students.

 

In a culture like ours, where speed is the fashion and constancy less common, it has been an unexpected thrill to watch YAWS maintain its vitality as a children’s art center. What began as a bare bones art class for toddlers has evolved into a complex, multi-media art program that serves as many middle and high school students as it does two and three-year-olds.


YAWS and its students have grown, but some things haven't changed at all. Our modest studio is furnished with the same pre-school sized chairs and tables we had when we opened our doors. While a bit wobbly and clearly too small for our older students, they still do the trick, and thankfully, no one complains. Curious toddlers continue to peer through the windows to watch the young artists as they work, sometimes making us all laugh as they smash their faces against the glass. And as embarrassing as it may be, I still announce the beginning of class by screaming, "ART CLASS! 5&6 (7 - 9, etc.) YEAR-OLDS, COME ON IN!" 

Also unchanged is our philosophy that every person has creative impulses and artistic ability.  This is especially true for children who, regardless of age and background, need time and decent materials to express their deep-seated desire to make art. As experts in education insist, art is as essential and academically rigorous as any core subject. The young artists at YAWS demonstrate this notion daily.  Through their artmaking, YAWS students utilize extraordinary intelligence, discipline, imagination, and flexibility, attributes that transfer well into any subject of study.

 

As educators have reported for years, art is a fundamental part of a childʼs education. Art draws out an unquantifiable appreciation for beauty and humanity. At YAWS, children are guided thoughtfully as they discover new dimensions of their artistic nature.

 

More important than rewarding proud parents with priceless keepsakes, the artistic endeavors of early childhood are essential to brain development. Children from all parts of the world, from households of both humble and privileged, share the urge to create. Interestingly, their creative development is strikingly similar, regardless of their background and culture. During the preschool years, most children freely regard themselves as “artists.” Art has not yet become a specialized activity reserved for those who are considered “talented.”  Every child can make art and every child can benefit from doing so. Unfortunately, a lack of information, materials, and proper encouragement prevents many children from experiencing the wonder of discovery through art making. 

For the last decade, YAWS has served the community by creating an art center dedicated to providing children, ages two to sixteen, with free and low-cost visual art classes. Children who attend YAWS programs develop knowledge of various fine art techniques, acquire an appreciation of art from many cultures, and share their artwork by participating in public exhibitions. At YAWS, children uncover their unique artistic ideas, participate in a workshop setting to develop skills, and begin to think critically about their artwork.