By Kim Hilsenbeck
About 20 students sat at tables around the art room at Negley Elementary this past Tuesday morning, painting, drawing and working on various projects. School is out, but art camp is in — at least this week.
Art teacher Amy Cigainero said this is her tenth year of teaching and running art camp at Negley.
“I love art camp,” she said.
And by all accounts, the students love her. Most call her Miss C. Others just call her Miss Art. Many of the campers are repeat customers who come back summer after summer. A few even continue to work with Cigainero even after they age out of camp. One current helper was in art camp from kindergarten through sixth.
While some of her students are new to the art world, many already have a strong inclination and come to camp prepared to learn.
Each summer Cigainero brings her love of travel and world art to Kyle from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday for one week each June.
Her love of art has really been influenced by all of her world travels.
“I walked from Spain to Portugual,” she said. “I’ve also been to Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Panama, Mexico, Costa Rica, Italy, New Zealand and Australia.”
Cigainero, who grew up in Arlington, Texas, said seeing and experiencing art in other countries and cultures is incredibly interesting.
“Art work is based on resources available and it’s also cultural,” she said.
Cigainero funds her love of travel by putting on art retreats for adults and contacts local libraries to offer art classes. She and another Hays CISD art teacher, Adriene Simes, who works at Wallace Middle School, work together.
“Sometimes we get grants to stay or we get free food,” she said.
While talking about her travels, Cigainero was approached by a student, awaiting instruction. Cigainero picked up a cardboard tube.
“Why don’t you make me a cat out of this toilet paper roll,” she said.
She said she normally has time for about four to five projects each day of camp.
The students will create papier maché projects, woodscapes, watercolors, recycled art and more. This week they will also make wagon wheels of Costa Rica, Panama paper mullahs and wire sculptures from Spain. Cigainero also teaches the history of art and how culture influences the art in a given locale.
She said her style of teaching art is choice based.
“It’s about freedom,” she said. “I like to show loose examples then let them go for it and see what happens.”
She said some students find it challenging to be more independent.
“I found if you show them an exact example, they try to do what you do, and I don’t like that,” she said.
Students looking for her to show them exactly how to do everything may need to get used to her style.
“I am not that teacher,” she said.