Mindy Flexer lists her occupation as art teacher. She might best be described however as a teacher who uses art to impart life lessons.
Flexer is preparing for her annual summer art camp at her loft/studio on Greene Street in Germantown. Six week-long sessions are currently scheduled for the weeks of July 8 and 22 and all four weeks during August. The sessions run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.
Campers range in age from 5-year-olds to teenagers. Flexer savors the mix of students of different ages.
“At all different ages, some kids are already thinking of themselves as artists,” she said. “Some kids are intimidated by it. But once they get here, there’s kind of a great equalizing effect. Everyone is excited about art, everyone is excited about their next step, and everybody just dives in, wherever they are.”
Camp attendees are tutored in using various art materials, acrylic paint for instance, or in sculpting, drawing, or other art-related techniques. They will also learn about art in other parts of the world, notably Japan. Each week of the camp has its own unique theme.
But perhaps most importantly, the students are schooled in life and critical-thinking skills.
“They’re always learning how to generate ideas, choose among them, and brainstorm,” Flexer said. I call them ideation skills; generating and working with ideas. Then, there is what I would call ‘Following the arc of the process.’ Going from one step to the next step. That’s how everything gets done, whether it’s an art thing or some other kind of thing. And that all that adds up at the end to self-expression.”
The camps range in enrollment from perhaps a half-dozen students to a dozen or so. Flexer, who has taught art for more than two decades and has a master’s degree from Tyler, believes in an individualized approach to instruction.
“I really don’t believe in the factory model,” she said. “I think everybody’s different and everybody needs different things. I really tailor it to each person, that’s an important part of what I do.
“I have a radical respect for the learner and the learner needs to be in charge. I’m there to assist them, not to make them conform. I’m there to open up doors for them.”
Flexer says the skills she teaches in her art classes, in the camp or elsewhere, are transferrable to other areas of life. “Of course, I teach art and I care about art,” she said, “but I’m really teaching people how to think, how to create, how to be themselves, and they can use that no matter what they’re doing, whether they’re making art, writing, or starting a business. I think of all the skills as important and completely transferrable.”
Flexer derives immense satisfaction from helping people enhance their creative instincts. “I think it’s critically important,” she said, “and it can be argued I think it’s the only thing that’s important. What’s more important than people really getting to be who they are?”
For more information on Mindy Flexer’s summer art camps and other programs, go to www.mindyflexerart.com