India art

A child in India shows off paint sent to him by Elkton art teacher Jen Easterday.

When artist Jen Easterday began going to into the community to bring art to those less fortunate, it changed the way she viewed her craft.

“That part, community service, really changed me,” said Easterday, who teaches several art classes at Art Space on Main in Elkton. “Once I took art to other people, it affected me differently.”

Therefore, she wanted her students to have the same experience. Four years ago, she started the Children’s Charity Art Auction, which allows her students to sell their work to help other kids.

The first year she held the auction, it raised money to send art supplies to a children’s home in India.

Now it works as an inter-continental partnership. The Indian kids send their art to the United States to be sold at the auction, and then with the money raised, Easterday sends more supplies to the children’s home.

More than 50 kids from India and the Newark/Elkton area, ranging in age from 5 to 15, will take part in the auction, which will be held at Ogletown Baptist Church on Red Mill Road east of Newark. The 6 p.m. event is free to attend, and bidding starts at $5 on each piece of artwork.

“The mission is that all kids have the ability to change the world,” Easterday said. “Art is a means of doing that.”

For many of the kids, she said, seeing people buying their art is an eye-opening experience.

“The kids sit in front of their art and the bidding sheet and they get to watch the bidding war,” she said. “They get so excited. They see a great response and then get that much more excited to do it again next year.”

“It’s a great way for kids to see they can use their art to help people all over the world,” she added.

The kids are no strangers to helping others, however, because community service is a strong component of all of Easterday’s classes. While she wants her students to learn the fundamentals of painting, pottery and other art forms, of equal importance, she said, is instilling in them the importance of helping others.

Her students often meet up with inner-city kids or children with disabilities to help teach them to do artwork.

“The fabric of this art program is using what they’re learning to help others,” Easterday said.

Last year, the auction raised nearly $3,000, with individual pieces being sold for as much as $150.

Most of the money is used to sponsor a child in India ¬— it costs only $300 a year to provide for a child’s yearly needs there — and to send more supplies to the children’s home.

A portion of the money is also used to support a local charity. This year, it will go to the Bear Babe Ruth baseball league, which is raising money to build a handicapped-accessible baseball field.

Easterday said that while raising money is the goal, she emphasizes to her students that any amount helps.

“The most important thing for them to know is that they’re helping the world, whether its $5 or $150,” she said.

What keeps her doing the auction, she said, is not only the lessons it teaches her students but also the stories she hears about the Indian kids who get to use paint, brushes and canvases for the first time.

“It’s so new to them and so special,” she said. “It’s amazing for them to hear they have people over here who really care for them.”

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