Artist: Heather Wirth of Columbus Artmobile

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From the Artist: Heather Wirth of Columbus Artmobile edition

Heather Wirth took her first step toward an arts career at 12 - into the basement studio of a "young, hip teacher" who taught painting and drawing classes in her home.

The idea of recreating that environment occurred to Wirth while she was a student at CCAD, and it stuck with her for years.

"Honestly, I was thinking, why hasn't anyone done this?" she explained. "They're closing all these art programs, and there are all these artists."

This year, Wirth secured the financial support to launch Columbus Artmobile. The traveling art education initiative offers home-school and after-school programs for ages five to 14, led by Wirth and guest artists working in media such as glass and fiber.

In January, Wirth will move classes to a basement studio in her home and start additional after-school classes in partnership with Columbus International High School and Fifth Avenue Alternative Elementary.

After winning a start-up grant at a Feast event at Haiku in February, Wirth was discouraged by the amount of red tape involved in working with local schools. She found other avenues to students through a fellow artist's suggestion to approach parents who home-school and through workshops for children at events such as KidzArtz and Yummy Summer Weekend.

A volunteer at Columbus International High School, which has no art program, helped Wirth make the school district connection, and the new, foreign language-intensive school's relationship with Fifth Avenue Elementary opened doors there. Wirth will teach a 13-week program for both, covering subjects including self-portraiture and comic-book creation.

In the coming year, Artmobile will also present a spring show of student work at Clayspace, and Wirth will run kids art workshops in conjunction with the Goodale Park Music Series next summer.

But first, by the end of this year, Wirth will add a feature to the Artmobile website to connect educators who need art supplies with those who have supplies to donate.