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Artist expands art offerings after school


Young artists tutored by volunteer Cathy LaPlace, show some of their work and art influences they have been studying this year. From the left are Bryn Chaffee, Cathy LaPlace, Lillie LaPlace and Mikyla Harris. LaPlace assists in developing art interests among young students at both the middle school and Center Elementary. - Roger S. Lucas photo

An art volunteer at Center Elementary and the Grand Coulee Dam Middle School is teaching students art history and how to paint in the style of famous painters.

Cathy LaPlace, born and raised in France near the Belgium border, discovered that the district's art program was somewhat limited and is giving up hours of her time to help out.

She meets with interested students after school to explore artists, their styles, and some of the art they have produced.

Recently, her students studied the life of Andy Warhol and his contribution to modern art. Students then created an art piece in the Pop Art style.

In May, a study of Keith Haring, who achieved recognition for his figurative art, was scheduled. Haring, who died in 1990, won fame for his street culture art in New York City.

The final artist scheduled for study this year is Wassillie Kandinsky, a Russian visual artist. He was born in 1866 and is credited with painting the first abstract art.

Students will use the information about Kandinsky to do a piece of abstract art.

LaPlace's list of artists that she has exposed students to this year is long and varied.

Cathy LaPlace shows an abstract mural in her home south of Electric City. At first glance it appeared to be a mobile, but it is painted on the wall in her dining room. Murals are also painted in numerous other locations in the LaPlace home. - Roger S. Lucas photo

She said art is a much stronger part of the curriculum in French schools. Also, most communities there have evening art classes for both kids and adults several times a week.

"I noticed when I enrolled my own daughter in school here how limited art was, and since I had the time, I wanted to do something about it," she said.

LaPlace, an artist herself, classifies herself as a muralist. It comes to the fore in her home, where she has several murals on walls in several rooms.

She came to America when a young lady to study, of all things, American culture.

"Everyone is interested in things American," she said. "Probably because of television."

LaPlace has a degree in science, but it is clear to see art is her passion.

She and her husband, George, who is employed by the Bureau of Reclamation, return to France every 18 months or so, to keep connected.

In addition to her volunteer art efforts, she also teaches French in the SHARP Kids after-school programs.

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