Art spanning the generations

For some, it is a lifelong calling that impels them to reach for the paintbrush or sit behind a potter's wheel and create compositions with colors and textures that draw the audience in. For others, it is the happenstance of an unexpected splash of color on canvas that opens doors to an avocation that will only truly blossom later in life when they have time to explore their talents to the fullest.

We may never really know the full story of art and how it reveals itself to the artist and the audience. But the connection has existed for centuries, and the relationship says a lot about who we are and who we can become, since it goes to the very heart of creation.

Making that vital connection between the artist and the audience is what motivates Kristen Schweigard every day she goes to work. An educator with the Albany Institute of History and Art, she spends much of her time developing programs and connecting with those who have never stepped foot in an art gallery or seen a painting in person.

I always enjoyed art as a child, Schweigard said. "It touched me in so many different ways. I think it may have helped me build my self-confidence and played a part in making me who I am today."

In more recent years, her programming has acquired a well-earned reputation.

"We try to have programs that actually give young people a hands-on opportunity to create their own works of art like the Vacation Art Break program we put together for the upcoming holiday break," said Schweigard.

"That way the kids can see the connection between their art and the pieces we exhibit, and it can have a major effect on them," she said. "For many, it helps bring them out of their shells and you can see it in their self-confidence and their self-expression. It really is a very positive experience."

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