Kudzu School now offering classes at Hood Street Art Center

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Registration is still open for those interested in learning a plethora of techniques to bolster their artistic skills and fuel their creative passion.

Instructor Kellie Gambino is currently teaching art classes at Hood Street Art Center. Special photo

The Hood Street Art Center, at 136 Hood Street in McDonough, has launched curriculum-based art classes through the Kudzu School for Fine Arts Education. Classes meet once a week for 1 1/2 hours, depending on the needs of the group, said Instructor Kellie Gambino.

She said the classes, which began last week, cover a wide range of interests for participants.

“It’s not just a pottery class or a painting class or a watercolor class,” said Gambino, 42, of McDonough. “We’ll get into some painting, we’ll use wet media, we’ll use dry media, we’ll use fiber media. I really focus on art instruction and techniques from art history. We start with the basics of form and texture, and move into more complicated elements like color theory and design.”

The maximum class size is eight students per session. Gambino said multiple sessions will be available, with spots open from 10 a.m., to 1 p.m., for adults as well as students in public or private school and homeschoolers.

Gambino obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the College of Charleston, with a focus on childhood development. From there, she attended Lander University in Greenwood, S.C., graduating with honors in 2000 and earning a Master’s degree in teaching and art education.

Gambino taught art in public schools in Michigan for three years, then came out of teaching to work in benefits management and consulting. She said efforts to strengthen art education programs have suffered in recent years and that she hopes the new classes at Hood Street will help to better serve those with a flair for art.

“With the economic downturn of 2008, art programs were cut out of schools in both the public and private sector,” explained Gambino.

“My goal is to open opportunities for further study to students (third grade to adult) looking for a deeper education/experience in Art and Art History than is currently available in a traditional school environment. Ultimately, I want the McDonough area to have as many art-focused options within easy reach as the metro and north metro Atlanta areas do. I feel that we in Henry County are a very creative and talented population, and I'm so pleased to be involved with The Hood’s movement to offer more contact with visual and performing arts for the community.”

Gambino said demand for such a program locally has been high in the last few years, and hopes the classes will tap into the artistically talented population that exists in the area.

“I feel that we are fortunate to be so close to Atlanta and have so many options for arts and culture experience and education nearby in the city of Atlanta,” said Gambino. “But I feel that there have historically been more suburban arts movements toward the north metro area, and not as many down here in the Southern Crescent. We have many great local arts associations and local galleries growing now and trying to change that.”

Gambino added that she is planning to open some after-school sessions in the near future for kids who go to traditional school. For registration costs and more information, call 678-972-3971, e-mail kudzuschool@gmail.com, or Gambino directly at kelliegambino@gmail.com.