Summer is bursting with art

Local programs expose kids to spectrum of styles, discover their inner artists

Under a white tent on a Hinsdale driveway, August blooms were emerging.

The flowers were of the modeling clay variety, shaped and painted by young artists to form ornamental plates. The students fashioned them under the tutelage of teacher and mom Chun Ye, who has spent most mornings this summer out on her open-air studio leading her Spin Around the Art World summer art camp classes. The camp, part of her Tianto Art Studio program, has run from 9 to 11 a.m. every Monday through Thursday since June 15.

Each week offers a theme, from “National Art Experience” introducing Native American totem poles and Chinese brush painting to “Modern & Contemporary Art” exploring genres like impressionism and surrealism. A graphic designer turned stay-at-home mom, Ye said she started teaching art as an extension of the lessons she was giving her twin daughters.

“We just had Hinsdale kids. We’d get together and we’d paint,” she said.

With the pandemic limiting local summer activity options, she moved the classes outside and gave her offerings more structure. Up to six students can attend a session.

“We tell them to wear masks, and try to make them safe,” Ye said.

The majority of students are in the lower elementary school range, but she’s had some as old as 15. On Tuesday morning she had five pupils for her flower plate class, including her 8-year-old daughters. Ye held up a sample of the finished product.

“We cut out a paper flower and then put it on the clay,” she explained. The kids then carved around the template — with some teacher help — and let it harden before painting.

“Oh, my petal’s stuck again,” exclaimed one of the students, appealing for assistance.

Classes cost $20 to $35 depending on enrollment, and all materials are included. With each of the 10 weeks featuring a different theme, the supply list is diverse. The display of colorful masks, decorated Japanese fans and shoeboxes transformed into animal mailboxes testifies to the variety.

“I want kids to try different programs,” she said. “I want my kids to know more details about the art, more artistic styles.”

Student Oriana Hejka, 9, said the flower plate and animal mailbox have been her favorite projects so far. She eyes art as a possible future vocation.

“I want to be an artist and a person who helps animals,” Hejka said.

“We have a YouTube channel, and we post the lessons so the kids can watch them at home,” Ye said.

Young brothers Louis and Calixte Martin of Western Springs were attending their first class. They were excited to try out pottery, one of their grandmother’s hobbies.

Ye wants her students to “learn how to tell stories with art” and encourages original creations rather than simply following a model.

“Most of my students come up with their own ideas and put colors together,” she said.

Both of Ye’s daughters, Jaya and Leah, have leveraged their artistic talent to earn recognition in Metra’s annual safety poster contest.

“You get to learn new things and create stuff and see how it turns out,” Leah said of her mom’s classes.

An art show featuring Spin Around the Art World pieces is planned for October at the Hinsdale Public Library. Next week is the final week for camp sessions, and information is available at

“I love art. For me like it’s my job,” she said. “I love and enjoy teaching it.”

Kids Open Art Studio

At The Community House, 415 W. Eighth St., Kids Open Art Studio offers youth ages 5-12 a chance to get creative — and to get out of the house.

“We’re making the studio available for kids to come in and do a low-key project with a selection of materials,” said Jimmy McDermott, LyArts program director who facilitates the class.

McDermott presents a project idea to attendees, but they are free to let their imaginations direct them.

“I’ll do a guided project that I know we can finish in the time frame, but the class is pretty easygoing,” she said.

Class participants wear masks, are socially distanced, and wear vinyl gloves when materials are shared.

“I’m happy to say that they’ve been pretty diligent about the mask wearing and at least understanding of maintaining six feet of distance,” he said.

McDermott said the schedule has been somewhat fluid to accommodate his own schedule, but he expects Kids Open Art Studio to be held next week from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. He advised people to consult the schedule at The cost is $25 per session, $20 for Community House keyholders.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean