Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
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Encouraging creativity

Senior leads efforts to engage others in art

Emma-Kate Metsker ’17 working on leaf-printmaking projects with head start students
At Head Start in Norton, the leaf-printmaking project that Emma-Kate Metsker ’17 planned and coordinated with her Wheaton housemates didn’t quite go the way she imagined.

Sitting at a low table that was covered in newspapers and leaves, one preschooler immediately plopped a brush full of green paint on her paper; another one joyously skipped the paper and painted her own hands instead; and another combined as many colors of paint as she could to create a new mud-like concoction.

“This didn’t go as planned. But look at them, they’re having fun; that’s all that matters,” said Metsker, smiling after high-fiving the girl with the tiny painted hands.

For Metsker, in art and life, diving in and going with the flow is one of the best ways of learning. Art Day at Head Start is just one example of how the busy business and management and studio art double major embraces and demonstrates that on and off campus.

She is the president of House of the Living Arts, Wheaton’s theme-based residence that provides a supportive space for makers who seek to encourage collaboration and artistic growth on campus and beyond through events and programming. She also works as a student graphic designer with the arts events staff; is a barista at the Lyon's Den; and is involved with the Outdoors Club and Farm Club. And she is chair of the Student Government Association’s Programming Council and led the planning of the recent fall festival activities on the Dimple the same day she did the art sessions at Head Start.

She planned Art Day after her housemate Maeve Ronan ’19 suggested it and arranged a meeting with Joelle Dyer, Wheaton’s liason with Norton Head Start. Metsker recruited Wheaton student volunteers to go to the nearby preschool to help with the art activity, which was held in four classrooms during two morning sessions. About 50 preschoolers participated.

“We wanted to do this because we all are enthusiastic about the arts and felt that it would be a great opportunity to share our ideas and efforts with the young students,” she said. “I think this program will benefit the students of Head Start by showing them how they can use their creative abilities to have fun and thrive in the arts while also giving them an outlet for creativity alongside Wheaton students who are passionate for the arts. As Wheaton students, it is so exciting to connect with the children and foster a space for creativity that allows them to explore different processes and manifest abstract ideas.”

Dyer applauds Metsker’s project. “For most children, the arts tend to get left behind as they progress through their education so it's important for them to be exposed to young adults who still have passion for art and creativity,” said Dyer, Wheaton's AmeriCorps *VISTA worker and STEM partnership specialist in the Office of Service, Spirituality and Social Responsibility.

“I love programs like these because there's something in it for everyone; Head Start students are given the opportunity to practice their fine motor skills while working with pumpkins and different kinds of leaves in addition to spending time with positive role models, and Wheaton students get the chance to get off campus, practice their leadership skills, and work with children from diverse backgrounds.”