Sustainable creativity

Retired teacher offers free recycled art classes

Previous Next

Free art classes

3 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays, April 29, May 13, May 27 and June 17 at the Camas Community Center, 1718 S.E. Seventh Ave.

The class is designed for children ages 9 to 12. Parents are encouraged to participate. Younger siblings cannot participate.

Preregistration is required by the Monday before class. Call 834-5307 to register.

"This is a great way for me to stay in touch with kids and make sure they get exposed to the arts. This gives them something creative to do. Life is not all about video games."

-- Riza Parker

Free art classes

3 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays, April 29, May 13, May 27 and June 17 at the Camas Community Center, 1718 S.E. Seventh Ave.

The class is designed for children ages 9 to 12. Parents are encouraged to participate. Younger siblings cannot participate.

Preregistration is required by the Monday before class. Call 834-5307 to register.

After 30 years as a teacher, Riza Parker was ready to retire.

However, she wasn’t ready to give up her connection with kids and the classroom.

After moving to Camas from San Antonio, Parker began teaching free art classes at the Camas Public Library last spring, with a focus on recycling.

“The best way to recycle something is to reuse it and we use that philosophy when creating the projects for this class,” she said.

Now, she has switched locations to the Camas Community Center. Her classes are free and open to all kids ages 9 to 12. Before becoming a teacher, Parker spent many years as a professional artist.

“This is a great way for me to stay in touch with kids and make sure they get exposed to the arts. This gives them something creative to do. Life is not all about video games.”

— Riza Parker

“I try to use recycled art whenever possible,” she said. “This is a great way for me to stay in touch with kids and make sure they get exposed to the arts. This gives them something creative to do. Life is not all about video games.”

Parker’s current series of classes are held on Wednesdays from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Remaining projects will be bath tile pencil holders, altered books, coffee can bird houses and painted books.

“Everyone has different abilities, so this is all about having fun,” she said. “Everyone ages 9 to 12 is welcome to join, including those with special needs.”

Parents are also encouraged to participate.

On a recent Wednesday, Parker’s students worked on creating contour image boxes using recycled shoe boxes, colored pencils, glue and paper.

To go along with the recycling theme, Parker quips that none of her ideas are new.

“I will see something I like and then I adapt it for recycling if the kids are interested,” she said. “I could do an entire series on any one of these topics.”

When she is not teaching art classes, Parker can usually be found working as a substitute teacher in the Camas School District.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s really great to keep involved in the education community. Art is an excellent way for the brain to be used.”

Jamie Wright and daughter Ella, 9, enjoy the diversity of the classes.

“I love it,” Jamie said. “There is so much push in the schools these days for measurable progress, but art also does great things for kids. This is a place where she can come to learn, make new friends and work with adults.”

“She has always been artistic, ever since she could pick up a pencil,” added Jamie. “She was the kid who would color on the walls and couches.”

When asked what her favorite part of the art classes was, Ella replied, “Everything.”

“I just love that we do art,” she said. “I like it all. I have loved it for a long time.”

Esther Kim, a fourth-grader at Woodburn Elementary in Camas, has taken classes with Parker before and also had her as a substitute teacher.

“I really liked it when we made a Valentines’s heart mobile,” she said. “It is fun to come to these classes because I get bored at home. I like being able to create things.”

When she is not teaching art classes or working as a substitute, Parker volunteers at the Firstenburg Community Center in Vancouver.

“I really love seeing the kids and their families,” Parker said. “Just being around them is great.”

After living in Camas for a year and half, she is happy to have put down new roots and call it home.

“It’s a great town,” Parker said. “The proximity to other things is amazing. The weather is more predictable and I can’t say enough about the school district. This is the perfect place for me.”

She plans to continue offering free art classes to the community.

“If everyone can benefit, why not?” she said. “It is just something I like to do. It is better to be involved in a community than not.”

Please review our community guidelines