FLORENCE, S.C. — Art was flying right off the walls at one of the biggest Florence gallery openings of the summer Tuesday night, including colorful portraits, photo-perfect still life sketches and avant garde sculptures.
But the frenzy to grab the pieces came in part so that the artists, Florence School District 1 students, could get home and play in the remaining hours of sunlight.
For three weeks, 72 children from grades four to eight took daily art classes at Briggs Elementary to create the body of work at the 26th annual Horizons summer camp for gifted and talented visual arts students.
Laura McFadden, one of the five art teachers who taught the classes, couldn’t have asked for a better group.
“This has been a fantastic year,” she said. “We had a really great group of kids. They worked really hard all summer long.”
The process to get in the Horizons and H2 program — which is a newer extension of the program for a small group of older students — began in the fall when students from across the district were nominated by their art teachers and parents. From there students had to prepare a portfolio of artwork and undergo interviews before being selected for the limited number of spots.
Mary Watts, who has returned to the program for three years, said that Horizons is one of the best parts about summer since it gives her a chance to be creative.
“The program’s a lot of fun, and it’s fun to expand and learn more things about art and meet other people who like art, too,” she said.
This year her favorite project was a “dancing house,” a multimedia 3D anthropomorphic house.
McFadden said the variety of projects the students get to try is what really makes the Horizons experience different from the art classes students get during the school year.
“They’re always excited about clay. Any time they can get their hands on clay they’re really excited,” McFadden said. “But we did some really interesting things with multimedia, with painting in layers, with working in plaster and none of them had done that before. Not sure they liked plaster as much, it’s a little bit sticky, but we try to get a big variety of media and techniques and process in the program.”