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Artists of all ages making themselves at home at McKinney Center

October 21st, 2013 12:33 pm by Katherine Scoggins

Artists of all ages making themselves at home at McKinney Center

Photos by Tom Pardue

For decades, the former Booker T. Washington Elementary School for
African Americans sat empty. Then, in 2010, the former school was renamed The
McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School and underwent major renovations
with the goal of becoming Jonesborough’s cultural arts building. Thanks to a
partnership with the Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts, that goal is being

As the building was being readied, art teachers Sharon Squibb and Larke
Foster spent several months working with town leaders and other teachers to
write a well-defined, sequential curriculum that covers all age groups and adds
a strong benefit and validity to the art program.

The McKinney Center was used earlier this summer for the Jonesborough
Open Juried Art Show and Exhibit, a juried art show of 71 pieces selected from
152 submissions. Also this summer, a week-long art camp for children was held.
“Art Trek” was a multicultural journey to a different country every day (Asia,
Africa, South America), along with an introduction to a new art form such as
pottery and Chinese brush strokes.

Students of all ages participated in the camp - “which we weren’t sure would
work,” admits art teacher Larke Foster. “But they got along really well, had
fun and produced some amazing art.”

It is definitely something they will repeat next summer.

Art teacher Sharon Squibb teaches art at University High School in
Johnson City, but teaches art in the evenings at the McKinney Center. This
particular evening, she is teaching a drawing class for adults.

“I enjoy teaching adults,” says Squibb. “They may have taken art a long
time ago in high school, but then had to get serious about their majors or
jobs. Now they have some time to ‘re-visit’ their interests and learn at their
own pace.”

She also enjoys teaching art to those who might not have had any
experience with it.

“We are very fortunate in this area to have art teachers and art classes
in the schools, but that is not the case in many places,” she said.

Squibb will offer classes for middle school-aged children as well as a
variety of high school and adult classes as the programs grow. Painting,
ceramics, advanced drawing, printmaking and other media are “on the drawing
board” for the next few months.

Foster teaches primarily young children and those of elementary school
age. Recently retired, she didn’t stay idle long.

“I love teaching art to children. When I retired, I took this job to
continue to work with children in small groups. I love listening to them talk
among themselves - they have such interesting perspectives and ask the best

While children’s art classes are fun, they are taken seriously, too.
There is an art show at the end of each class.

“Children are proud of what they have done,” says Foster. “Sometimes the
children will come to the Center and go immediately to their artwork that is
hanging in a show and stand beneath it.”

There will be more opportunities to show off that artwork, too, in the
coming months. Foster will offer beginning art through Art Adventures for
children in grades K-2, and Creative Constructions for those in grades 3-6.
Foster is also very excited about her class, Little Picasso, for ages 3-5 and
an accompanying parent, grandparent or other adult.

These classes “not only ignite a child’s imagination through art projects
and games, but also build knowledge, artistic techniques, fine motor skills,
language development, cognitive function, as well as self-confidence,” Foster

Squib continues her Basic Drawing class, for anyone “from the ages of 15
to 105, who would like to learn basic drawing skills and understand how to see
things like an artist.”

The class will include learning how to use various media such as pencil,
charcoal, and pen and ink, and will explore a variety of drawing approaches
such as sketching, shading, realistic rendering, pictorial composition and

To see a complete listing of classes and workshops offered, or to
download a registration form, go to
For more information, contact Rachel Conger at 
or call 423-701-3869.

Additional Photos

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