When Galloway Township resident Gelasia Nurse, 9, makes art, she does it according to her own tastes.
As a camper at the Noyes Museum of Art's recent Around the World in 5 Days art camp, Gelasia was tasked with making a papier-mache mask in African tribal style. She set out to make a zebra - then she diverged from her plan.
"I changed my mind," Gelasia said, looking over her finished creation. "I just put all kinds of pink little lines right here. Some light green and dark green up at the top, with polka dots, and all kinds of colors."
Gelasia was one of a dozen kids who took part in the camp, the first in a series of weeklong art workshops for kids ages 6 through 12 offered by the museum through Aug. 2.
The next camp, Fantastic Tales Camp, takes place July 8-12, and allows kids to create art inspired by stories such as "James and the Giant Peach," "Harry Potter" and "Shrek." Registration is open through July 5. Other camps offered this summer include explorations of studio art, art inspired by nature, and three-dimensional art, with registration ending the Friday before their start date.
Enrollment is $190 for non-members and $160 for members and includes supplies and a T-shirt. The camps are geared towards youths who already have an interest in art, but all are encouraged to take part.
Volunteer counselor Trudy Ellmore, who has helped out at the camps for three years, said she believes the camps are invaluable for artistically inclined kids because they fill the holes left when schools scaled back or eliminate art options due to budget constraints. They also allow kids to get exposure to media they wouldn't find on their own, she said.
"We get to work with art stuff they don't get to normally work with at home," said Ellmore, who lives in Galloway Township. "Mom's not going to break out the plaster, because it's a mess."
In addition to the tribal masks, students in the Around the World camp made pieces in the style of Italian mosaics, Chinese lanterns, Mexican feather art and more as a way to learn both new cultures and art styles.
Camper Kelly Kershenblatt said she most enjoyed making the tribal masks. A horror movie fanatic, Kelly said she decided to have some fun with her piece.
"It's a zebra, but it's a demon zebra, with a horn," the 9-year-old Galloway resident said. "The masks are to scare away evil spirits, so I thought, 'How about I make a demon mask?'"
Such divergence from the norm is typical of campers, who, because they're not graded, are free to indulge their creative instincts without fear of failure.
There's no right answer in art, said Noyes Director of Education Saskia Schmidt - and that's the fun of it.
"There's an awful lot of learning involved in art - it's a way of thinking for yourself, because you're presented with problems," Schmidt said. "You can be flexible in your thinking and go beyond what is taught in school, and just think for yourself."
Contact Braden Campbell:
If you go
What: Noyes Museum Summer Art Camps
When: 9 a.m.-noon, various dates.
Where: Noyes Museum of Art, 733 Lily Lake Road, Galloway Township.
How much: $190 for nonmembers, $160 for members.
More info: See noyesmuseum.org or call 609-652-8848.