GSA students find joy in making art as a community of creatives – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville


Dominic Vennemann, 16, heard for the first time about the Governor’s School for the Artsor GSA, of friends at her dance studio in Kenton County, Ky.

“I asked my mother what [GSA] was, and she explained it to me,” Vennemann said. “Then we started to do more research on that, and I said, ‘Oh, can I try? “”

Venneman, a hip-hop dancer, felt he needed to try other dance forms to increase his chances of getting into the tuition-free arts program, which takes place every summer at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. He added ballet and modern dance classes to his schedule and was accepted into the 2022 GSA dance program.

Dominic Vennemann, of Kenton County, Ky., tries his hand at a step during his African dance class at Governor’s School of the Arts on the University of Kentucky campus in Lexington. Venneman started out as a hip hop dancer and enjoyed learning more styles.

“And it’s a fun experience, like, constantly learning something new and developing my skills and trying new things,” he said of his time in Lexington. He can’t wait to get home and ask his mom if he can take more classes at her dance studio.

Venneman and his fellow GSA attendees wrap up their final projects and shows on Saturday.

This year, with the support of a $2,850,000 grant from the Kentucky Department of Educationtwice as many children were able to attend GSA, a public-private partnership between Kentucky Performing Arts, the state, and private actors.

Over 500 students from across the Commonwealth spent weeks immersed in one of many art forms: from visual arts to dance, vocal music, musical theatre, acting, creative writing, instrumental music, film and photography, as well as architecture and design. GSA officials believe that the Summer Intensive is more than just a refinement of the skills of young artists.

GSA Bay dance students Standrod and Cadence Carr perform a routine in their African dance class on July 26, 2022. Cayde Chatterton, Camryn Wren and Abigail Legg, in the background, cheer them on.

An artistic career can take different forms

“I think vocal music has always been something I’ve enjoyed, and I think it’s easier to see a career path through the GSA,” said Dawson Gorby, 17, from Leitchfield.

Gorby said the teachers and activities in the program helped him see how many options there are.

“We talk about different paths to being a teacher or a college professor… You can be a conductor, a singer in a choir or someone who sings in an opera… There is also music therapy,” he said . “I could really go on and on. There are a lot of things people don’t think about per se.

Vocal music student Dawson Gorby, of Leitchfield, Ky., sings a song during a lesson at Governor’s School of the Arts on July 26, 2022.

Executive director Nick Covault, a 2002 GSA alumnus in vocal music, said the program is designed to help them see the many ways they can pursue an artistic career and how being an artist can help them other projects.

“Whether they know it now or not, they might have other passions that lead to other careers,” he said. “That’s exactly part of what we’re doing here too, enabling them to understand that the skills they have as artists aren’t just useful on a stage or on the gallery wall. other sectors.”

He listed things like agility, innovation, communication skills.

“We need artists [other] industries,” Covault said, adding that communities also need citizens who can “help ensure that the arts are valued in our society.”

For joy and community

Kennedy White, 16, said attending the visual arts program this summer at the GSA “was the highlight of my social life.”

“It’s been really nice to be able to talk with people, other creative people. It helps rekindle my passion for art,” said White, who lives in Rineyville, Hardin County.

White said she was encouraged by a teacher, who previously attended GSA, to apply for the program.

“Rating so many artists allowed me to make friends very, very quickly,” she continued. “It’s really easy to get to know people and find common interests and to go out and get to know people on a different level.”

A painting by GSA visual arts student Kennedy White, which focuses on the fear of climate change and the 9 to 5 desk job, sits on an easel in an art studio at the University of Kentucky at Lexington on July 26, 2022.

Before coming to Lexington, White said she wasn’t sure art was a viable career path, but the program gave her hope for what a creative future might look like.

“I don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life right now. But I hope to pursue something at least a little in the arts so that I can continue to create.

Covault said they try to help students see that not having all the answers at this point in their lives is okay.

“A lot of the work that we do is about the creative process, about living each day together as a community, and a lot of it is about things like joy or fun,” he said.

“We really try to focus and live our lives during this program in a way that just focuses on the magic that can happen when artists come together.”

As for doubling class sizes this summer, Covault said they are already exploring ways to maintain it.

“None of us want to be at the end of this funding cycle, at the end of 2024, and say, ‘Well, I guess it’s enough to go back to half capacity,'” a- he declared. “So we definitely intend to do a fundraising campaign so that we can support this…for years to come.”

A GSA dance student turns the corner during a ‘zigzag’ exercise in a modern dance class which involves young dancers jumping and moving diagonally across the floor.

Editor’s Note: Stephanie Wolf participated in a panel discussion as part of the 2022 Governor’s School of the Arts program.

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