KOKOMO, Ind. – As J.C. Barnett III led young painters through painting a fall pumpkin picture, he did more than inspire creativity.
He also hoped to plant the seed about going to college.
Barnett, director of Indiana University Kokomo’s Black Student Center, hosted the Little Artists Program, inviting children to explore the arts and the campus.
“Inviting them here to paint is a way to get youth on campus who may not have thought about higher education, and let them know IU Kokomo is present in their community,” he said. “This is someplace they can come get a college degree. This place is just as much theirs as it is anyone else’s.”
Nearly 20 people attended the session, which Barnett plans to be the first in a series.
“I hope we can inspire someone to be an artist, and get those creative juices flowing,” he said. “Oftentimes, people think they can’t paint, that it’s too hard. I hope they realize how easy it is to get paint brushes, get some paint, get a canvas or something to paint on, and just begin laying down the paint. It’s not hard at all. If you take the time to do it, you’ll get a tremendous amount of enjoyment.”
He sets an example of being an artist, accomplished in both drawing and painting, outside of his roles as a financial aid counselor and VA certifying official, in addition to his work with the Black Student Center.
He was excited to combine his creative and professional sides by offering the program.
“I think artwork brings people together in a very special way,” he said. “I’m so happy to have the opportunity to lead in these efforts, and to be hands-on with the youth, teaching them to be good little artists. It’s an exciting thing to think about.”
The free program was funded with a grant to the IU Kokomo Multicultural Center from Duke Energy.