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Kids, Parents Create Cameras in Westport

Connor Williams got a digital camera from Santa Claus this Christmas. That was one of the reasons he was building a pinhole camera with his mom, Tara Engler, at Westport Arts Center’s WACky Family Sunday.

“I’ve been taking pictures of my grandma and my friend, Max,” said Connor, 6, of Redding. “I like taking pictures because you can save them — if you want to see it, you have it.”

With the sun glistening on the icy Saugatuck River outside, the Arts Center was crammed with creativity Sunday afternoon. At a long table piled with feathery and sparkly art supplies, kids and their parents built colorful low-tech cameras with photographer Michael Elsden. Kids also sketched cameras with artist Martha Bloom and drew self-portraits as part of a project called “Facebook Faces,” started by 16-year-old Staples High School student Carson Einarson.

Oliver McGovern, 8, of Norwalk, says he takes a picture every time he gets a chance. He also likes to draw.

“I like to draw machines — tanks, boats, cars,” said Oliver, who was hard at work alongside his mom, Erin Riley, a painter and art teacher at Greenwich Academy .

“I feel like everybody’s an artist,” Riley said. “I think it’s important that kids internalize that and internalize their ability to express themselves, use their hands and create.”

The Westport Arts Center started the WACky Family Sunday program to encourage parents and kids to be creative together, said Danielle Ogden, the center’s director of education.

“Often, as adults, we get caught up in whether we are good or bad artists,” Ogden said. “At the Art Center, we wipe the slate clean. The kids jump into the projects and pull the adults in.”

The family program is sponsored by Wilton-based toymaker Melissa & Doug . The afternoon of art also coincided with the center’s “Kids Kulture” photography exhibit, which features photos of local kids as well as pictures of children by world-renowned photographers.

Westport resident Barbara Salinas and her kids, Lucas Goldstein, 4, and Isabella Goldstein, worked hard on their cameras.

“Our pictures hanging on the wall here,” said Salinas, a documentary photographer. “[The kids] are very interested in photography — and I wanted to learn how to make a pinhole camera.”

Do you think it’s important for kids to do art with their parents? Do you do art projects with your kids? Did you have fun at WACky Family Sunday? Share your thoughts below.

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