SHERIDAN — Creative minds crammed into an upstairs conference room at Sheridan County Fulmer Library Monday for the opening night of Sketch Jam, a new group celebrating artistry.
“It’s just more of a thing for me to meet people that are in the same mindset and inspire that creativity and passion for life that comes with art,” group founder Cammry Lapka said.
Lapka, still a student at Sheridan College, holds a passion for impacting the next generation of artists, allowing them creative space to learn and discover.
“It’s more about self-discovery rather than just art,” Lapka said. “That’s what I’m hoping to imbue into my program.”
Lapka, a self-proclaimed introvert, worked past nerves and nightmares of nobody coming Monday night when nearly 20 people, old and young alike, came to jam. The group represented all age levels from elementary to well beyond retirement age, giving Lapka an opportunity to impact several generations with her fresh ideas.
“There aren’t really programs around (like this),” Lapka said. “There are probably programs at the college, but I thought maybe it would be interesting to try and open it up for less of a school thing and more of a public, all-encompassing types of people.”
She did just that.
Her vision for the group derived from her personal passion for art and sharing ideas.
“I want it to be a studio where we get together and talk about the theme and show each other art,” Lapka said. “I love seeing people passionate when they share their art because I’m passionate when I share my art. It’s very fulfilling.”
But for Lapka, her passion lies more in simply appreciating art.
“I’m reading a book about the modern generation. We look at art and appreciate it, but there’s more to art than appreciating it. It’s a language,” Lapka said.
Her ideas just started blooming, and the group latched onto them quickly during the first event. Several artists shared previous work while others immediately started new strokes upon entering the room. Attendee Val Burgess even brought books to help inspire herself and others. Lapka’s long-term goals for the group include possible showings of artwork in the upstairs art gallery at the library.
“(I want) people who want their art recognized to get out there and feel like art is something they can be more involved with rather than feeling like art is something that you have to be good at and make money off of,” Lapka said.
She also hopes, if enough are interested, to host a group specifically for elementary-age kids. The library’s programming and young adult services coordinator Christina Schmidt stands behind that idea.
We were happy to have her come on board and offer to lead it,” Schmidt said of Lapka. “We’re just going to take a supportive role and she’ll take the lead. I think it’s going to be awesome.”
Both Lapka and Schmidt aimed to create a space open to artists of all levels, from novice to veterans.
“I don’t want them to feel like they’re being judged or graded on anything. Just more of an open, do your own things through what you enjoy doing,” Lapka said.
Schmidt, noting Lapka’s natural talent, agreed.
“Even if they don’t feel like they’re the greatest artist in the world, that’s not what it’s about,” Schmidt said. “It’s about learning and getting ideas from others in the group.”
The group creates an opportunity for artists and the library, satisfying needs for both.
“I think it fills a niche for us for sure,” Schmidt said. “It is nice to give young adults or kids or whoever the opportunity to have a creative outlet. To come and actually create stuff at the library is pretty cool.”
Lapka plans to continue holding Sketch Jams weekly at the Sheridan County Fulmer Library, starting at 6 p.m. in the conference room upstairs. After the Jan. 30 meeting, the group will move to a larger meeting location within the library.
For more information on how to get involved, see the Sketch Jam website at sheridansketchjam.weebly.com, email Cammry at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the library at 307-674-8585.
Editor’s note: Cammry Lapka is an employee at The Sheridan Press.