-  Walters center draws diverse, enthusiastic crowd

The stuffed great horned owl was supposed to be the model for the young artists who gathered on a recent Thursday evening in Hillsboro. But 5-year-old Sahil, who has attended the Walters Cultural Arts Center’s Family Art Nights since they began in October 2010, molded his clay into a cake rather than a nocturnal raptor.

What kind of cake?

“I don’t know yet,” said the young Hillsboro resident, “but it’s going to be green. Probably a mint cake.”

Sahil’s neighbor, Matt Davis, tries to bring him each week.

“He really likes to do art,” said Davis, who added that he appreciates how the city-run event “gets youth involved and everyone to show their creative side.”

Indeed, despite the owl theme, children crafted a variety of clay figures ranging from jungle trees and snowmen to brightly painted vases.

Community involvement was a main motive behind the launch of the family art events, according to instructor Alice Hill. The two-hour sessions, which cost $5 per person, are designed to be affordable while also freeing participants from an attendance obligation that comes with many art classes.

Hill also noted that the program, which alternates between clay art, painting and mixed media, strives to incorporate a variety of styles and techniques.

“We want to promote cultural diversity and ask participants about the types and styles of art in their countries,” said Hill, whose program draws a culturally rich crowd of about two dozen every Thursday.

“We sometimes have so many people on clay nights that we have to turn some away,” said Hill.

With a bachelor’s of fine arts degree in painting and scientific illustrating, Hill brings ample experience to the classes.

On the night Sahil was making his green cake, Hill and two volunteers assisted children with rolling, shaping, texturizing and glazing their works of art.

At the end of the clay sessions, Hill fired the artwork in a kiln for participants to take home during their next visit.

“I know people look forward to coming every week,” she said.

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