“You just let them go at it.”
It’s not a sentiment normally associated with construction paper and crayons: “I think kids need to think progressively, they are our future … they must be able to think creatively and see how thinking creatively changes the world.” But Kim Bavington’s enterprise, “Art Classes for Kids,” has nothing to do with the “Okay kids, time to draw for 10 minutes” approach to art kids often encounter at school. Bavington founded “Art Classes for Kids” in 1990 after an impressive career as an art director and then manager of her own graphic design firm. She may be the Valley’s only art teacher to have attended the Sorbonne in Paris after receiving her BFA from UNLV. Her approach is modern — in more ways than one. Bavington’s method of teaching kids is true to the spirit of inventiveness and experimentation of modern art: Construction paper and crayons are not in her arsenal, but, in a recent class, 3-year-olds made prints using ink rollers and Styrofoam board. Even toddlers paint on stretched canvases (in a recent class, using toys as “brushes” that roll or run through puddles of paint leaving tire tracks or dinosaur prints). The result: masterpieces to hang over the mantle rather than tape to the fridge. “You just let them go at it, which most parents don’t do very often at home.” Mentorship is a key to her program. By the time they’re teens, her “graduates” can become volunteer assistants, then paid assistants. “For many of these teens, it’s their first real job, and I make a big effort to teach them what it takes to be a great employee … Most of these selected teens go on to be art majors in college.” A generation of Las Vegas area kids has passed through Bavington’s program, and it has had an impact. “Many of my old students have gone on to have art careers or are currently going to school for some form of creative art. Many of these past students will contact me and tell me how happy they are to have the creative job.” Or they’re some other place Bavington’s intensive classes have led them. “I’ve had kids that will text me that they are at an art museum standing in front of a famous work by an artist they remember doing a kids’ art project based on.” Call it class dispersed.