International Arts Center’s Junior Warrior program brings local seventh graders to campus

Students took part in art workshops, toured exhibits and explored the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park on the Troy Campus.

Students took part in art workshops, toured exhibits and explored the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park on the Troy Campus.

Troy University’s International Arts Center recently hosted 132 seventh graders from Charles Henderson Middle School for a day of art workshops and activities as a part of the IAC Junior Warriors program.

The children spent the day on TROY’s campus at the IAC and the Center for International Languages and Cultures, participating in art workshops and touring art exhibitions at both sites. The Junior Warriors program is partially funded through a grant awarded by the Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA).

“This year we were able to make sure all participating grades could come to experience the IAC Junior Warriors at no cost to the school,” said Carrie Jaxon, IAC Director and Curator. “We are so grateful to ASCA for their dedication to Alabama arts and especially for helping to fund these experiences for the children. It’s incredibly important to us to play a role in the arts education of our community’s children.”

According to Jaxson, the IAC Junior Warriors has three main goals: to introduce the children to the University and provide a positive experience on campus, to introduce them to art outside of a classroom setting, and to provide them with a multicultural experience. 

“Our collaboration with the Center for International Languages and Cultures allows the children to be exposed to a beautiful collection of Chinese art and interact with Chinese Scholars,” Jaxon said. “It’s a unique experience that we can offer, and we hope it encourages their interest in learning more about other cultures.”

The students heard a presentation on the “Origin and History of the Asian Dragon,” took part in the Dragon Dance, tried their hands at Chinese paper cutting and took a tour of the Center for International Language and Cultures exhibition hall.

The IAC Junior Warriors program also hires TROY art and art education students to conduct the workshop, allowing them to have a professional experience with a large group of students in a museum setting. 

“The children, most of who have never been on TROY’s campus, enjoy eating at the Trojan Dining hall, where Sodexo also participated as a generous contributor to this experience,” Jaxon said. “The children finished the day with an art scavenger hunt at the IAC and exploring time in the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park.”

After a nearly two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Junior Warriors program started up again last fall, bringing nearly 240 fifth and sixth graders from Troy Elementary School to campus.  

“The International Arts Center wanted to bring the grades who missed out on the experience into their facility this school year, as schools are now allowing field trips to proceed,” Jaxon said. 

Unveiled in 2016 along with the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park, TROY’s International Arts Center includes the Huo Bao Zhu Gallery, the Fred Nall Hollis Museum and Warriors Unearthed Designed by Frank Marquette, an interpretive center explaining the significance and design of the terracotta warrior exhibit. The International Arts Center also includes studio and classroom space for the University’s Graphic Design program.