Students use Kent Bellows as an outlet for their creative energies


According to the Joslyn Art Museum, the Kent Bellows Mentoring Program “offers an interdisciplinary arts studio and professional artist support that encourages teens to explore, observe, think and create in the arts. Three semesters per year, professional artist mentors are matched with about 70 high school teens who are provided an opportunity to find personal inspiration, gain technical skills and build a portfolio.”  

Senior Ellie Kripal poses in front of one of her prints at the exhibition.

The application process is simple. Prospective teens complete an online application form, and if they’re contacted, they are asked to participate in an interview and provide their portfolio. The program offers 13 different classes. Painting, mural, fashion design, ceramics and music production are a few.

Seniors Naomi Delkamiller, Katie Hedrick, Ellie Kripal and Tory Roubidoux participate in the program. On Nov. 21, these students showcased their individual works from the Fall 2020 program. 

Senior Naomi Delkamiller joined the program in January 2020. She took photography last semester and is currently in sculpture. For the exhibition, she built an Ruth Bader Ginsburg tribute out of wire and cork. 

“It feels like the world is moving so fast, and I wanted to slow it down. By making this piece, I felt so much peace and purpose. I truly feel like I have honored her memory in the best way I could, in the best way I knew how,” Delkamiller said. 

Delkamiller also made a hanging hot air balloon sculpture. “The idea behind this piece morphed as the semester went on, but I knew I wanted to symbolize the ending of an incredibly hard year with the weightlessness and hope of something simple. While making the hot air balloon, I constantly thought about everything I am letting go of as I enter into the year 2021.” 

“I joined the program for the guidance given by the incredible mentors and the resources available. I have learned so much about art and also myself,” Delkamiller said.

Senior Ellie Kripal joined Kent Bellows for a different reason. “I wanted to meet new people from Omaha who enjoy the same things as I do. The diversity of this program really makes creating art more enjoyable,” Kripal said. 

She joined the program this August, and is currently in the printmaking class. Her favorite part of the program is the “one-to-one feedback” she gets from her mentor. “I came into the program knowing nothing about printmaking, but my mentor, Mike, made everything more understandable. He really helped me through the printmaking process.” 

For the exhibition, Kripal made two prints. The first is an Intaglio print, “which is a form of printmaking that requires carving into acrylic with hatching and linework, rubbing oil into the acrylic, and putting it through a press machine.” The second is a linoleum relief print, which is “a bigger piece that only has two values.” 

This program has given Kripal a sense of individuality. “I have discovered a new side of my artistic style, which adds to my overall artistic abilities.” 

“I joined Kent Bellows because I was craving an artistic opportunity where I would be introduced to new mediums and be surrounded by fellow artists,” senior Katie Hedrick said. She joined the program at the same time as Kripal but is in the mixed media class.  “Art is a way of expressing who you are and letting your feelings out.”  

Hedrick kept this in mind when she designed her projects for the exhibition. The first piece she made is a shoe stuck in gum. “I made this piece because I felt confined and stuck in my usual ways of using pencil and paper. This piece helped me break my habits and just let loose.” 

Her second piece is bathroom signs that she painted. “These were used as a way for me to get my creative juices flowing in order to complete my last and favorite work.” 

For her third piece, she used plaster to make a cast of her foot. She then put copper leaf on it and a farm on the ankle. “This was a way for me to be happy and express how everything is perfect, no matter how small.”

Hedrick’s favorite part about Kent Bellows is that it not only allows you “to express yourself,” but also “to step out of your comfort zone in art.”

Delkamiller’s advice to any Marian student who loves art is to “keep loving art, keep creating and keep exploring different mediums. Some of my best pieces have been made with materials and processes outside of my comfort zone!” There are many outlets available to students who want to express their creativity outside of school. 

If you’re interested in joining the Kent Bellows Mentoring Program, applications are now open on Joslyn’s website. As Hedrick said, “the world is your canvas, so use it!”

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