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North Dakota Musuem of Art runs week-long art camps throughout summer

Sydney Romero, 10, laughs as teacher Adam Kemp cracks jokes with his students Monday morning during an art camp held by the North Dakota Museum of Art on the UND campus. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald1 / 4
A section of a student's painting sits on a table at an art camp held by the North Dakota Museum of Art on the UND Campus. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald2 / 4
From left, Kaitlyn Werner, 11, Sarah Hong, 10, and Carly Mann, 10, work on paintings Monday morning during the North Dakota Museum of Art's summer art camp. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald 3 / 4
Sarah Hong, 10, works on a painting of a fox Monday morning during art camp, sponsored by the North Dakota Museum of Art. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald 4 / 4

The North Dakota Museum of Art’s art camps run throughout the summer — with each camp limited to a week — and camp organizers said they hope kids get more out of the camp than learning about different art techniques.

Matthew Anderson, director of education for the North Dakota Museum of Art, said they try to provide a unique experience for camp goers. While art is the central medium at the camp, he said he hopes kids take away a lot more than strictly learning art.

“They get a place where they can experiment with different techniques,” Anderson said. “It’s not about training young artists. Yes, you get artistic training while camp is happening, but really, it’s about letting them be creative and find the creativity inside themselves.”

Adam Kemp, a well-known local artist and the instructor of this past week’s camp, has formally run a week-long session for the past 11 years.

“I have five days to teach them something about the creative process,” Kemp said. “I can’t teach them art because there’s not enough time and there’s too many of them. I can teach them to play with the creative ideas and how to be observant of other people and different processes.”

The camps have been a growing success, with all of the sessions having filled up except for the last one, which Anderson expects to fill before the camp begins. Anderson said word of mouth has helped max out the camps this year, with some of the more popular camps, such as Kemp’s, reaching capacity within the first two days of registration.

The museum runs seven different week-long camps. The camps began June 23 and continue through Aug. 8. Each week, a different professional artist comes in to teach students new themes and projects. Some of the camps include “Art and Music Around the World,” where children ages 3 to 6 and an adult explore the relationship between music and art around the world, and another camp running July 21 to 25 for students ages 10 and older to learn about stop motion animation.

This past week, Kemp’s “We’re Going to Build and Paint” was meant to get kids ages 6 to 13 to work together and explore their individual creativity.

“The art part is incidental,” Kemp said. “I use the art as a vehicle to play, and explore the relationship between creativity and play. I encourage them to show their own creativity and that’s fun watching. And for the most part, you just let them off their leash and they’re fine.”

Anderson and Kemp said many of the students end up attending camps year after year. More than half of the kids at Kemp’s camp had gone in a previous year.

Siri Bergsgaard, 17, has attended the camp every summer since she was 5, and now works as a counselor at the camps.

“I don’t know what else to do during the summer,” Bergsgaard said. “It’s all I’ve ever been doing.”

Bergsgaard said she does some art on her own time and may pursue it in college after she graduates from Central High School. She said the “structure in the chaos” keeps her coming back year after year.

“There’s so many great artists, and it’s great to see them express themselves,” Bergsgaard said. “I love seeing them interact with the kids and seeing how proud the kids are of their work.”

Anderson, in his first year of running the summer art program, said this summer has been a great experience for him. He said he enjoys seeing the happiness on the kids’ faces after they’ve completed a piece of artwork.

“These kids are so proud of what they do,” Anderson said. “They grab their parents at the art show and take them around the room. With this much energy, you just get a charge out of it. It’s so much fun to be here, and to get to know these kids has been great.”

Call Rupard at (701) 780-1122; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1122; or send email to

Wade Rupard

Wade Rupard is a reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. Rupard is a 2014 graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and is originally from Normal, Ill. 

(701) 780-1122