Families use ‘monsters’ to expore emotions at arts camp

Families created their own monsters who talked about their feelings during man-on-the-street interviews Friday during the finale of Project Jericho’s Winter Family Arts Camp at Clark State’s Brinkman Educational Center. Photo by Brett Turner

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Families created their own monsters who talked about their feelings during man-on-the-street interviews Friday during the finale of Project Jericho’s Winter Family Arts Camp at Clark State’s Brinkman Educational Center. Photo by Brett Turner

Monsters invaded Springfield, landing on the fourth floor of Clark State Community College’s Brinkman Educational Center. No need for alarm as they were invented, invited and full of emotions to share.

Inspired by the children’s book “The Color Monster,” Project Jericho’s annual Winter Family Arts Camp made monsters its theme as 12 families explored how these could relate to emotions and feelings. They also created their own monsters and debuted them in a performance Friday evening, the finale of the five-day camp, for family members, friends and other visitors.

Made from scratch out of shower curtains, felt, fabric and other items, the monsters with moveable mouths sporting names like Arlo, Harry and Master George and voiced by family members did man-on-the-street interviews conducted by Cincinnati-based Madcap Puppets.

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They were questioned about what makes them mad or gets on their nerves with answers mixing the thoughtful and humorous: crazy kids and chewing fingernails to passing gas.

They also got to share dreams. These included becoming artists; musicians; attending college and Monsters, Inc. University; stopping littering; becoming a millionaire to make the world a better place; and making sure “everybody doesn’t go to jail.”

The youngest participants created their own junior box puppet monsters, taking center stage with a sing-a-long of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” followed by a monster parade.

The smiles, numerous videos and photos assured Project Jericho success coordinator Kristi Limes the program was a winner. The week also included talking about how to label emotions and emphasized being kind. Families also created art projects and biographies for their monsters, displayed around the room.

“People feel things when they see colors. We wanted to find out what is important to families,” said Limes.

Helping with the activities were local artists and educators Annette Eshelman and Kris Dillard and the Clark County Public Library.

Limes was gratified seeing moms bonding through their own session to share things going on in their lives and finding many things in common. She also saw kindness in action when one family came late to a session and other participants quickly shared materials.

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“What’s great is how these families came together as a community like that. I can’t say enough about it,” Limes said.

Perhaps nobody had more family involvement than Portia Lambert, with four of her adopted sons, ages 9-16, three of her four children and 15 of 21 grandkids.

Being involved in Project Jericho has made a difference emotionally for her two youngest adoptees who didn’t talk much before.

“Through this it has opened them up and now they get involved,” Lambert said. “My house is full of Project Jericho artwork.”

A Springfield native living in Cedarville, Lambert is proud every time she sees the many murals and portraits such as the Rose City Mural downtown that her family help create downtown last summer.

Project Jericho is a program of Clark State Community College supported through funding from Clark County Department of Job and Family Services, the Ohio Arts Council, The Turner Foundation, Clark County Juvenile Court and private contributions.

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