Kids paint for kids

Published 10:11 pm Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Students of Chilton County schools let their creative juices flow while painting art for the new satellite office of Child Protect.

Bunni and Erica Miller of Studio B invited students to use their art studio in September, and 33 students ranging in age from 4-15 participated. The invitations were sent out via Facebook, e-mail and postcards.

The idea was to make the Child Protect office as kid-friendly as possible. Child Protect is a Montgomery-based children’s advocacy center that utilizes specially trained staff to interview children who may have been physically or sexually abused.

The Clanton satellite office, located on Lumac Road, opened in October.

“The kids were able to give back to the community in this way,” said Jana Conlee, forensic interviewer and therapist with Child Protect. “When kids come in for interviews, [the artwork] makes them feel better. When they see it on the wall, their faces just light up.”

Conlee had contacted Bunni Miller in search of some kid-friendly artwork with which to decorate the center. But Miller took the idea and ran with it.

“My thoughts were, why don’t we have kids to paint it?” Miller said. “I thought that would be so cool for kids to be able to come see their artwork in frames and on the wall.”

Thirty-three original paintings now adorn the walls of the center. Each has the artist’s name posted in the corner.

The art was officially revealed in a private art opening and reception Dec. 6. The students dressed in their Sunday best, and a violinist provided music. Also, Clanton Police Chief Brian Stilwell delivered remarks.

“It was like their first art opening,” Conlee said.

While the Millers assisted the kids with ideas and technique, the paintings were completely done by the children. The result is a vivid array of colors, characters and designs, both abstract and intricate.

“Not all the kids have had lessons. Some of it is very raw, while others are more detailed. It just looks age appropriate,” Conlee said.

Studio B donated the art supplies, and Carter Art & Framing donated half the cost of assembly and backing. Conlee also thanked the Chilton County High School Student Government Association and Scott Zuelzke for their support.

Participating students were Anna Adams, Mia and Zoe Batchelor, Anna Bearden, Fletcher Brantley, Zack Burnett, Callie Childress, Sawyer Cobb, Abbey Cornelius, Brittney Dubose, Bailey and Bryne Elliott, Jackson and Jordan Hallmark, Elijah and Noah Henry, Mitchell Jennings, Claire Ellen Jolley, Ashton Kennedy, Emma Kate and Riley Locke, Mary Elizabeth McKinney, Jake Moore, Cody and Courtney O’Neal, Jenna Parnell, Lawson and Lydia Patterson, Alyssa and Alyvia Stilwell, Cheyan Wilson and Maggie and Mason Zuelzke.

Plans are to make Kids Art 4 Kids a yearly event. Likely, the art will be auctioned off in a silent auction, and more kids will contribute new art next year, Conlee said.