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Weekend Ticket: Arts celebration aims to ‘stimulate’ learners

PA Library to host appreciation day with artist Ted Ellis

Carolyn Thibodeaux said she’s passionate about connecting “reluctant readers” with literature, but the solution can’t be found in books alone.

Instead, the Port Arthur Public Library children’s and young adult librarian plans to use art as her primary tool for “sparking that interest” in some of the area’s dispassionate or disengaged youth.

Weekend TicketThe Port Arthur Public Library will host “A Day of Art Appreciation” — featuring nationally renowned artist Ted Ellis, the Mexican Heritage Society Folkloric Dancers and the upcoming generation of the African American Cultural Society — in a back-to-school celebration Saturday afternoon.

Thibodeaux said the event will incorporate interactive mini-workshops to engage students in exploring the value of the arts.

“You have to motivate the children to go further in their education and in their cultural development,” Thibodeaux said. “You energize them and jolt their brains to show them what they’re capable of. The event is geared toward all school-age children, but I’ve also invited teachers — especially local art teachers — to come sit with nationally renowned artist Ted Ellis Saturday.

“It’s a time to come see and absorb. The energy is contagious, and if you want to stay motivated — in school, in your career, in your life — you have to find people who are passionate about what they do. And from a librarian’s standpoint, the arts engage that creative side of your brain so you can evaluate problems differently. When both sides of the brain are working — the cognitive side and the creative side — that’s when you unlock your potential.”

Thibodeaux said Ellis is a self-taught artist from New Orleans, La. currently living in Houston. Ellis has been commissioned by brands such as Walt Disney Studios and Coco-Cola, and he’s served as the official artist for two historic civil rights events.

In March, Ellis released a commemorative piece, “Bloody Sunday — Selma, 1965” for the City of Selma in honor of the 50th anniversary for the historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. Ellis’ “Juneteenth Freedom Project” was featured at the U.S. Senate Building in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth this year.

“Mr. Ellis and I connected online over our vision for children and the arts. His work is phenomenal, and he’s so passionate about what he does. I’m just honored he’s coming here to spread his message with our youth,” Thibodeaux said. “He’s going to work on a mural with the children during the workshops. As he’s instructing, he’ll be speaking motivationally and using those teachable moments that come in the act of creating something.”

Thibodeaux said the Mexican Heritage Society Folkloric dancers will kick off the event, and members with the African American Cultural Society will close with either a spoken word poem or dance.

The Port Arthur Public Library’s “A Day of Art Appreciation” is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free for all local students.

The library is located at 4615 Ninth Ave. in Port Arthur.

For more information, call Thibodeaux at (409) 985-8838 ext. 2237.

Twitter: @crhenderson90