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A Rock-Solid Education

Summer Apprenticeship Program Introduces College Students To Art Of Stone Sculpting

July 22, 2005
By ASHLEY L. BATTLE, Courant Staff Writer

Adriano Vazquez pounds the block of granite with an object that looks like a small hammer - his mouth and nose covered with a mask to protect him from the bits of rock that fly out with each bang. Before long, the rock will be transformed into a bench.

Vazquez is a member of a stone sculpting studio that is part of the Greater Hartford Arts Council's Neighborhood Studios program. The six-week program selects area young people to participate in a paid-apprenticeship program and exposes them to jobs in the arts. This year, 120 are participating.

"They are required to dress accordingly, clock in and clock out," said Rie Poirier-Campbell, marketing director for the arts council. If they are not acting appropriately, they can be disciplined or fired, just like at a real job, Poirier-Campbell said.

The three-week stone sculpting studio ends today.

Vazquez, who lives in Hartford and attends the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., has been spending Monday through Friday working with the large piece of granite. Once completed, the bench will be placed along the banks of the Connecticut River.

Vazquez, 20, has been participating in the program for the past three years. This summer, he is also participating in the mural studio.

Vazquez said he enjoys the program. "It looks good on my resume and I'm looking forward to learning how to work with stone," he said last week.

In addition to the stone sculpting studio, which is sponsored by Lincoln Financial Group Foundation, seven other studios immerse students in arts such as ceramics, dancing, crafts and jewelry, music, textiles and theater. Each studio has its own corporate sponsor.

The stone sculpting studio has the smallest number of apprentices, with three. The members of the studio - Vazquez, Richard Combs, 18, and Evan Sable, 21, both of Torrington - are all college students. The rest of the students in the studios program are high school age.

Poirier-Campbell said the studio is smaller than the others because stone sculpting requires strength as well as size.

"A 14-year-old couldn't do this," she said, motioning toward the workers who were dressed in protective clothing and masks while pounding away at the rock.

Darrell Petit, of Branford, serves as the master teaching artist for the apprentices. To gain a better understanding of their materials, Petit and the apprentices visited Stone Creek Quarry in Branford.

"They're thinking while they work. Experience is the way they learn," Petit said.

In addition to their apprenticeships, the students in the Neighborhood Studios program are required to attend weekly marketing classes where they learn how to market themselves and form their resumes.

The program, which draws students from the city and the suburbs, is sponsored by Travelers Life & Annuity. Other sponsors include the state Commission of Culture and Tourism, Capital Workforce Partners, the Capitol Region Education Council, the Connecticut Department of Education and the city of Hartford.

The remaining studios run until Aug. 3. That day, a showcase featuring the work of the studios will be held at Riverfront Plaza at 5:30 p.m. The event is open to the public, and the rain date is Aug. 4.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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