About a dozen young writers and visual artists from various states recently attended Sweet Briar’s Blue Ridge Summer Institute for Young Artists, known as BLUR. High school sophomores, juniors and seniors spent three weeks on campus, immersed in their respective disciplines.
Teaching assistants and instructors provide prompts for regular assignments, but they had a lot of freedom to decide what they wanted to do, said Schuyler Lake of Leesburg, Va. That freedom was something he valued about the camp — along with the rare opportunity to express himself artistically every day.
BLUR encourages participants to view their artistic disciplines through various lenses and to collaborate with other artists. The schedule is demanding, with classes during the day and collaborative projects, exhibitions and readings going well into the evenings. There’s opportunity to explore Sweet Briar’s 3,250-acre campus for both work and play, and group outings and free time are mixed in — but the participants spend a lot of time at their craft.
Like Lake, Madison “Madi” Windsor of St. Louis appreciated how immersed the program allowed them to become.
“I can already see myself getting better,” Windsor said after one full week of the camp. “Some days we do art for seven to nine hours and it’s very intensive, but I can already see myself growing and getting better.”
Assignments with due dates come nearly every day. If it sounds like a lot of work, it is, Windsor admits.
“But it’s art, so it’s super fun.”
View a gallery of photos here: