Artillery: Learning through scissors and books

Ginger Huebner believes all children should grow up with a foundation in the arts. All her life, she's known she was meant to teach art. So it was a natural move to open Asheville's first visual arts preschool, The Roots + Wings School of Art. "Most of how we learn history is through the art that was made at that time," she says, " Art is very much a tool for learning."

Beyond craft time: Ginger Huebner is opening a visual arts preschool next month. Photos by Ursula Gullow

The Roots + Wings School of Art will be located at the Cathedral of All Souls in Biltmore Village, and will open next month. Classes will be limited to nine students, and much of the work will focus around group collaboration and applied methods of learning. The students will get more than the standard craft time offered at most preschools. Pottery, printmaking, drawing and paint mixing will be some of the skills taught in the curriculum, though basic skills like cutting paper will also be taught. "You'd be amazed by how many kids don't know how to handle scissors," Huebner says.

According to Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit arts advocacy group, early engagement in the visual and performing arts significantly impacts cognitive, motor, language and social-emotional development. But you don't really need to tell Huebner, a mother of two, about the benefits of learning art skills. Of her own kids, she says, "I feel like they're more confident as people because of the art projects we do. They're not afraid to try out anything at least once."

A student of architecture with an MFA in visual art education, Huebner also has plans to open a Roots + Wings art school for adults via her studio in the River Arts District. Her vision is to provide a space that's easily accessible to the public where River District artists can teach and learn how to teach. "Teaching is a skill — you have to know your students, know your subject matter, and know your curriculum — most of what teaching is about is communicating ideas effectively."

Learning new paper-based tricks at BookWorks on Haywood Road.

Those interested in learning new creative methods might consider a class at BookWorks in West Asheville. The studio offers a plethora of workshops focusing primarily around book arts, including lessons in letterpress and bookbinding. Workshops introducing skills like encaustics and intaglio are also offered — even a class about making paint from regional clays is on the fall schedule. The classes aren't free, but a scholarship fund has been established — thanks to the edible-book contest held last spring — to assist worthy students.

On occasion BookWorks hosts free artist lectures. Recently, Wisconsin-based artist Shawn Sheehy gave a talk about the art of pop-up books – or what he likes to call "collapsible sculpture." While Sheehy delivered his informative presentation to a rapt crowd of nearly 40 people, a workshop on book repair taught by local bookbinder Dea Sasso was taking place in the room next door.

In spite of its industrious setup, BookWorks maintains an intimate and pristine space. Shelves of ink and type cabinets surround printing presses and other mechanics used for binding books. A studio dedicated to papermaking and sculptural installations has just opened in the room adjoining the main space. With all this on hand, it appears that BookWorks has quietly become a leading resource and educational facility for all sorts of local artists – not just the bookish kind.

Roots+Wings is now accepting enrollment applications.

BookWorks will host artist Bridget Elmer, set to speak about the philosophy of FLOSS (Free/Libre/Open Source Software) through the medium of the book. Free. 7 p.m. July 30.

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