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McLEAN, Va.(WUSA9) --- Youngstersare getting the opportunity to tap into their imaginations during art camp at McLean Project for the Arts or MPA. The non-profit center sits within the McLean Community Center.

A group of children walks through the current art exhibit, Strictly Painting 9. The youngsters eagerly answer questions posed to them by the art teacher. Anthony Brock briefly explains "pop art" as the children examine a painting of a giant, orange popsicle.

Nancy Perry, MPA Executive Director, says the exhibit celebrates Mid-Atlantic regional artists. Each work has been selected by a jury.

"The arts are very important for children. They inspire creativity, they encourage them to express themselves, and they also give them the opportunity to learn problem solving skills. Skills that we need to live happy fulfilled lives and also that are important for jobs of tomorrow," Perry said.

Although the classes are not free, there are discounts for area residents.

"I find that the classes are really helpful, because in the public schools today, they just don't get enough art," said Tami Dibble, a parent and MPA student.

Dibble and her family are long-term residents of McLean. MPA provides the neighborhood an easy access to art.

"It's very important to have a local community based art program that responds to the needs individual community. While we're so lucky that we live here in the shadow of some of the greatest art museums in the nation there's something really special and intimate that you can experience art right here, in your own backyard," Perry said.

Dibble strongly advocates creative expression in her three children.

"It's such a good release for them and to be creative and I have an art background myself so I really want to foster that in my children," said Dibble whose 4th grade son, Paul, is in the summer art class.

"They've been in a very structured environment at school all day. For Paul whatever he does in the class he wants to come home and do that even more."

The art class exposes children to different techniques used by artists featured within Strictly Painting 9. The children become inspired to create their own projects.

Paul's class put together an installation of colorful paper, styrofoam balls and pipe cleaners.

NOTE:Gannett Foundation has provided a grant to MPA.

Produced by: Elizabeth Jia
WUSA9 & WUSA9.com

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