NEWPORT, Ky. - Our weekly feature shines the spotlight on those unsung heroes among us: people who do good things for others every day, whether as a volunteer or as part of their job.
WHO: Jennifer Baldwin
WHAT SHE DOES: Founder and executive director of Art Machine, Inc.
WHERE SHE DOES IT: Newport, Ky.
Jennifer Baldwin was teaching art in Covington in 1994, when she got a letter with information that dismayed her: The regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards would be discontinued.
The regional program is an affiliate of the national awards, which began in 1923. Feeling it was too important to disappear, Baldwin took it upon herself to keep the regional program for high schoolers running.
In 2001, Baldwin added to her commitment to creativity when she founded the nonprofit organization Art Machine, Inc., through which she continues to run the regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.
Art Machine, Inc. provides other art programs, as well, including:
- Architecture By Children (ABC) installations
- The Betty Brothers Memorial Mudpie Marathon
- After-school programming
ABC is a program offered to K-12 students through the Cincinnati chapter of The American Institute of Architects. Local professionals teach students about architecture, and the students use the information to create drawings or models of designs based on given themes.
Art Machine, Inc. partnered with ABC to bring children’s designs to life, creating bridges large enough to walk across.
The Betty Brothers Memorial Mudpie Marathon is an annual event where young artists create pottery in honor of the ceramicist and art educator for whom the event is named. The art created during the event is sold to provide pottery-making opportunities for schools without ceramic facilities.
Art Machine, Inc.'s after-school programming is offered at Newport Middle School. Organization representatives also set up shop at local fairs, offering hands-on art activities for young children.
Art Machine, Inc. started with Baldwin’s efforts to maintain the regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for high school students to earn scholarships. Today the organization serves children of all ages.
“At this point, it’s too much fun to watch kids experiment with something they’ve never played with before, to watch their faces when they have these ah-ha moments,” she said.
How you can make a difference
Volunteer opportunities are available for individuals who want to get involved with Art Machine, Inc. One way to help is by setting up tables and art supplies at fairs. Those who wish to volunteer should contact Baldwin via email or the Art Machine, Inc. website. The organization also accepts monetary donations.
To contribute, mail checks (payable to Art Machine, Inc.) to:
Art Machine, Inc.
98 Pleasant Ridge Ave.
Ft. Mitchell, KY 41017
Connect with Jennifer Baldwin & Art Machine, Inc.