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Illinois Art Station

Written by on October 5, 2021

Photo Courtesy of Illinois Art Station

NORMAL, Ill.-There is a new place for crafts on East Vernon Avenue. The Illinois Art Station is a non-profit organization that provides transformative learning for children ages one to 18 through hands-on engagement with visual arts.

Executive Director of Illinois Art Station, Laura Jaster, went into detail on the main focus of this organization.

“Our primary focus is making sure that the classes are engaging and that dynamic arts programming is made possible for kids of all backgrounds.”

With this new building, IAS offers many activities for children of the Bloomington-Normal community, including classes that target specific age groups, drop-ins, creation stations and family activities.

“With the new building we offer classes for kids to participate in for young children ages one to five, and we have an afterschool program for kids in grade school.” Jaster continued, “We also have programs that we currently do in partnership with boys and girls clubs that reach middle and high school kids, as well as a new program for grade school age kids. Within the building we also offer drop-in art making too, so we are open now on the weekends for people to come in with their families. We also have drop-in versions of our early childhood program on Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so if you have a small child you can come in and have them experience that.”

Another interactive edition to the station is what IAS is calling “creation stations.” Creation stations have materials already provided, so that the creations are self-motivated and allow kids to play around and explore the different activities.

According to the executive director, IAS is planning on launching different programs for schools to get involved next spring as well.

“We have a number of different programs for schools that we are planning on launching next spring, so if you are an educator in a school or homeschool group and you want something that makes a lot of connections while engaging with and exploring art making, then we offer something that will meet your needs.”

Jaster stated that there are also options available for group activities.

“We also have the ability to have groups come in, so if you are a scouting group, or a friend group, or a community group that works with kids and you want something that allows your kids to use their brains and creativity, then you can request to have a group visit.”

There numerous types of projects that kids do at Illinois Art Station. The educators at the station constantly come up with something new. The children have been able to do projects including painting, collages, paper sculptures, and more.

Jaster went into detail about one specific project that is displayed in the building’s art gallery.

“One project we did with the middle and high school students was they got to sew face masks and artistically reinterpret that to share a message that they felt compelled to tell the world.”

For those who may need financial assistance in having their child attend classes or projects at IAS, Jaster emphasized the importance of every child having the opportunity to be involved. It is requested that you give a call or email the education department in order to receive a scholarship.

“It is very important to us that any kid who wants to participate in our program is able to do so even if they are unable to afford an entrance fee, so we do have a scholarship program and people can donate to Illinois Art Station to help support getting kids into these programs.”

Jaster spoke on the impact of IAS on the kids and the community.

“I think that the more kids are able to have that experience and learn, then that is going to branch out into our community and hopefully make them a bit more engaged, empathetic, and mindful of the way they interact with other people outside in our community,” Jaster continued to say, “I really hope that this has that ripple effect of kids gaining confidence, connections, and friendships, knowing that we all have this kind of connection through human experience and can find those connections with other people regardless of what our personal experiences might be.”

For more information, visit illinoisartstation.org.