WKU students hope to empower kids through art

Glasgow senior Jameson Price reacts Thursday as Paducah alumna Raeanne McKendree is called up to perform with the TrebleMakers during Art Feeds’ event at Stakz. McKendree was a former member of the Treblemakers and performed a solo during the event.

Lindsay Kriz

Paducah senior Katie Knecht said she has always loved to draw, write and “be crafty.”

So when Knecht heard about the program Art Feeds, she was immediately interested.

The program was founded in Joplin, Mo., and has grown to become a nation-wide campaign.

Its goal is to empower children through creativity by providing children with art educational opportunities that they otherwise might not receive in school.

“Sometimes there’s not much interest in art in schools,” Knecht said. “Those are usually the programs that get cut.”

Knecht said she was first inspired to help introduce children to the arts after she attended a Joshua Radin concert in Nashville.

“He called kids up on stage and showed them some of the basic strings of the guitar,” she said.

Knecht heard about Art Feeds from her roommate, Radcliff senior Danielle Clifford, who worked with the sister of the original founder of the program, Lindsey Bourne-Green.

“She was just so passionate about the work her sister was doing,” Clifford said. “I couldn’t help, but look into it. They both have such a passion for helping people that it’s infectious.”

Clifford helped spread the word about Art Feeds in Bowling Green on WUHU 107.1 and through the Bowling Green Daily News.

She said that she and Knecht would spend nights in their room bouncing ideas off each other.

“Katie honestly did most of the work,” she said. “It’s incredible how much she believes in Art Feeds.”

The program recently held its first benefit event at Stakz Frozen Yogurt last Thursday night, with two WKU a cappella ensembles, the Redshirts, and the Treblemakers.

A magician was also there to entertain patrons.

The group was taking donations and 10 percent of all sales made that day went to the program.

Knecht, Clifford, and Knecht’s boyfriend, Louisville senior Clay Simpson, also made about 40 bracelets to sell at the event. By the end of the event, she said, there were only 10 left.

“I found out that people are really generous,” Knecht said. “There were so many people there you could hardly move. There was a whole crowd there that I didn’t really expect.”

The proceeds made from the event will help pay for supplies the group will need for next semester.

Knecht said the group wants to start this process as soon as possible, so they’ll be ready to talk to elementary schools about projects as soon as possible.

Eventually, Knecht hopes to have a local art day next semester on campus for elementary school children.

“We want to get a lot of volunteers who are creatively inclined and set them up with students for a day,” she said.

Knecht said that people should keep an eye out for upcoming events.

Louisville senior Jill Meredith said she’s a friend of Knecht’s, and found out about the Art Feeds program from her after she came and talked to the art-related departments on campus.

“She encourages children to creatively express themselves,” Meredith said.

Meredith was also present at the fundraiser on Thursday night and hopes that the funds will make Knecht’s dream program a reality.

“Statistics show that people expressing themselves tend to lead better, happier lives,” Meredith said. “We want to give children that opportunity.”