Little artists with big imaginations


The definition of art is the expression of the application of human creative skill and imagination. Every country, culture, civilization and mythology has its own form of art.

From the famous European Renaissance came many paintings like the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, both painted by famous artist Leonardo De Vinci. The Medieval Ages gave us the plaque of Saint Paul and the Stone Age preserved many cave paintings and sculptures, like the Fumane and Altamira cave paintings.

Even throughout mythology all over the world, art has been a form of human expression, primarily in stories of heroes, monsters and gods.

The Ancient Greeks created many statues and artistic temples attributed to deities and heroes, like the Sculpture of Aphrodite and Percius, with the Head of Medusa.

The Ancient Egyptians created palaces and pyramids covered in sculptures of their deities and hieroglyphs, which also served as a writing of their language.

Modern art today is vibrant and bold, it usually holds a message for those of creative thinking to ponder over. The Link Art Gallery is the art center of Paris, where human creativity can be brought to life and admired. 

The Link Art Gallery’s annual summer youth program started June 4 and continues until July 18. Each class is a little different and offers different skills for different age groups. All of the classes are a chance for children to express themselves and their imagination through several kinds of art and crafts. Some of the classes include ceramic fish, yarn painting, portrait drawing, among other activities.

The classes have four instructors this year, Millie Arp Hamilton, Christi McClain, Mary St.Clair and Jessica Mahugh. Each class and instructor has their own unique lessons helping kids let their imaginations come to life.

While art for children is a fun activity, it can also be beneficial to their development. PBS Kids reported that having children participate in art can help their motor skills, language development, decision-making, visual learning, inventiveness, cultural awareness and improves academic performance.

Arp Hamilton, who has been teaching with the gallery’s program since she was in high school, says she is excited to continue as one of this year’s art instructors.

I am excited for the clay classes, I love getting to teach ceramics to students. Not only is clay a great hands-on medium, but it has a lot of properties that provide ‘teachable moments’ like patience, unpredictability and flexibility, she said.

“Firing clay takes a couple of days - it’s not an instant make-and-take kind of project,” Arp Hamilton explained. “There is also a great deal of unpredictability; sometimes things crack, break, or don’t turn out the way you imagined. That’s where the skill of flexibility comes in, and we adjust and adapt with what the kiln gives us. Making clay projects is a great way to practice ‘going with the flow.’”

Arp Hamilton explained the Link Art Gallery is not looking to teach like art classes in school do. She says they want to be able to teach every individual child the skills and the history of the art that they are creating; they want to give the children a chance to let their imagination run wild and free.

The program encourages the kids to not just learn from their instructors, but also from each other. All children in Paris and surrounding areas can join the classes.

“They get to not only learn how to socialize but also maybe make some friends along the way by learning about something new together,” Arp Hamilton said. “We often have kiddos from Unit 4, District 95, and out-of-towners all in the same room! It makes for a different learning experience and is a great opportunity for kids to meet and learn from new peers.”

The art program creates a new kind of space for each child that comes in.

They get a pretty good crowd of children and the crowd keeps growing every year, according to the instructor. Even though it is hard planning and making the classes happen with everyone’s summer getting increasingly busier, Arp Hamilton says it’s a good problem to have in our community.

She also explains that while the art program is something special for the kids, it is also special to the instructors who teach them.

“It feels special that I once sat where they sit, making art and looking to my instructor to teach me something new,” Arp Hamilton said. “It’s something I still carry with me years later. It was a way for me to meet like-minded kiddos, challenge my abilities and help find my artistic voice.”

The Link Art Gallery is not historic in just the sense of art but also a historic place for Paris. Abraham Lincon, a well-known and well-respected President of the United States, once stayed at the Link Art Gallery when it was the home of Milton K. Alexander. It seems fitting that such a historic place be the center for children to learn about not just their own history, but the county’s history.

The schedule for the gallery’s upcoming classes is;

  • Tic Tac Toe Boards for ages 12+, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on June 11
  • Ceramic Fish for ages 10+, 10:40 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. on June 11
  • Ceramic Clouds for ages six+, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on June 12
  • Cupcake Pinch Pots for ages 10+, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. on June 12
  • Rainbow Weave for ages six+, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on June 13
  • Yarn Painting for ages 10+, 10:14 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on June 13
  • Georgia O’Keeffe Flowers for ages six+, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on June 14
  • Pointillism Turtle Canvas Painting for ages 10+, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on June 14
  • Tic Tac Toe Boards for ages 12+, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on June 18
  • Ceramic Fish for ages 10+, 10:40 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. on June 18
  • Ceramic Clouds for ages six+, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on June 19
  • Cupcake Pinch Pots for ages 10+, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. on June 19
  • Create with Me Windsock for ages three - six, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on June 26
  • Pearler Beads for ages nine+, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. on June 26
  • God’s Eye Weaving for ages nine+, 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. on June 27
  • The Great Wave off Kanagawa for ages eight-12, 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. on July 17
  • The Great Wave off Kanagawa for ages five- seven, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on July 17
  • Seagulls, Seashells, and Sunsets for ages six -12, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on July 18
  • Matisse Fishbowl for ages six -12, 10:45 a.m. to 12 p.m. on July 18
Art Classes, The Link Art Gallery, Millie Arp Hamilton