For over 30 years, Central Connecticut State University has offered a unique art program that has enriched the lives of thousands of children in our community. Since 1971, CCSU’s Saturday Art Workshop (SAW) has been a pre-practicum teaching experience for CCSU students pursuing a degree in art education. Children aged 5 to 16 come from all over the state to take part in this opportunity that runs twice a year. Some SAW participants were so inspired by the program as a child that they came back to CCSU as art majors. Other SAW alumni are now sending a second generation of children through the program.
Since its inception, the Saturday Art Workshop has been an invaluable training vehicle for a great number of art teachers, and is unmatched as a pre-practicum teaching experience. Through this hands-on experience, CCSU student teachers earn credits and hone in on their teaching skills by designing and implementing age appropriate art lessons for their classes. Each class is monitored and evaluated by the SAW program director, Dr. Jerry Butler, Professor of Art Education.
The benefits of the Saturday Art Workshop are two-fold. Not only do CCSU student teachers gain experience in the classroom, but the child participants gain a deeper understanding and share their passion for the arts. Each class independently explores art theories, various mediums and artists in a safe and nurturing environment. Depending on the lesson, students may investigate simple line drawings, self-portraits, impressionism, primitive art, puppetry, relief printing, landscapes, gridded collages, or artists such as Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keefe, or Claude Monet.
Children who enroll in SAW meet on Saturday mornings for an 8-week period. Typically, the fall session runs October through December, and the spring session runs March through May. The workshop culminates with an art exhibition in the Chen Art Gallery in CCSU ‘s Maloney Hall. Family members and friends are invited to an opening reception where they can view the art work and talk with the student teachers, faculty, and friends. Over that past 30 years, many Berlin children have participated in CCSU’s Saturday Art Workshop including Mason Paul, a junior at Berlin High School, and Madison Blake, an 8th grader at McGee Middle School who were students in SAW’s 13-16 year old classroom during the 2011 fall session.