Seranya program offers jumpstart for young artists

by Maggie Chandler
Special to The Review

Seranya Studios Art Boutique may have started its youth art program when it opened its doors three years ago, but its importance to the community is greater now than ever before as the number of dedicated members have increased. Offered to ages eighteen and younger, accepted applicants not only have the opportunity to feature their art in her store on Mill Street, but also a chance to sell it. Susan Radke, Seranya owner, wanted to give young artists an opportunity from the very beginning.

Said Radke, “I guess I always had a heart to develop artists and it seems that youth artists would be an awesome place to start knowing that a lot of the schools are having budget cuts. Developing the business education part for the youth is also very important.”

From glass work and hairclips to animal drawings and greeting cards, Seranya features diverse art from several local youths who are in the program.

Take fifteen-year-old Lilly Pearce, who started creating her own lamp work, also called glass work, last February.

“I just thought it would be cool to learn,” said Pearce of her craft. “It’s a dying art.”

Pearce isn’t the only one from her family who has products featured at Seranya; her younger sister, Annika Pearce, makes fairy and flower hairclips. Both decided to join the youth art program because their mother already sold soap there for a few years.

Said eleven-year-old A. Pearce of how she took up the craft, “My mom bought me this kit thing for making hairclips and I decided I wanted to do that.”

Though A. Pearce mostly joined the youth art program to make money, it is not her sole motivation when creating the hairclips. She started doing her art about two years ago, before she applied for Seranya’s Youth Art Program.

“I have so much fun making my art,” she said.

It’s not only an opportunity to make money that excites members of Seranya’s youth art program. Radke has taken time with members to give them a business education.

Explains nine- year- old Willow Borgenhagen who sells animal drawings, “Susan was telling me how to price my art. She said to price by how many hours you put into it and the cost of the materials.”

But perhaps the most important lesson Borgenhagen has learned from Seranya’s youth art program came from its fundamental concept of being exclusively for the youth.

“It doesn’t matter how young you are, you can still make art. Most of the time, it’s only adult art that’s being sold, not kid stuff. I think its super cool that can sell my art here because I really put my heart into everything I make.”

Sixteen-year-old Lauren Boos, whose mother heard about Seranya’s youth art program, agrees.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity. It’s free. It’s great for people to see my work and great to get the word out about our non-profit,” said Boos.

Instead of keeping the proceeds from her greeting cards, one hundred percent of Boos’ earnings go towards the non-profit, ZeruZeru Inc, which seeks to help African albinos who are hunted by witch doctors for their body parts.

Said Boos of the organization,

My parents started it when they were contacted from a missionary from Africa, where we used to live. It was another project about the abduction and human trafficking of albinos. We never heard anything about it here so we had fundraisers. I’ve been back three times. There are national guards to keep the kids safe and we’ve got dormitories for them to sleep. Even the president of Tanzania is checking it out.”

With more motivation to make money from her greeting cards, Boos learned from Radke how to maximize profit while doing what she loves.

Said Boos, “Susan told us that when we first brought our stuff in to appeal to people. We’ve sold out three times already since I applied in spring. A short card explaining our non-profit helps appeal to buyers. And sometimes when I’m making the cards, I think about what the buyers like, but I like lose myself in my art. I lose everything and just draw. I sit down and just let go.”

Beyond these useful skills, Boos feels she’s gained confidence in taking advantage of opportunities such as Seranya’s youth art program.

“ I ’ v e learned to not be afraid. We came in not knowing anything about the program and Susan was so welcoming,” she said.

When asked why kids should join the program, Boos replied, “It’s Nike; just do it! Why not? There’s no cost and its beneficial! You get your name and product out there and see where it takes you. A thank you to Susan for having this. It’s no cost to the kids and a chance to sell your art. It’s awesome.”

Those interested in applying for Seranya’s Youth Art Program can call Susan Radke at (414)- 614-7778 or email her at to schedule an appointment.

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