Kent Bellows Mentoring Program supports student artists

 The Joslyn Art Museum’s Kent Bellows Mentoring Program (KBMP) is a mentorship focused on constructing a positive environment for high school students interested in the arts. Being only a five-minute drive from Central, it is an accessible choice for many students. The program takes place at 4 p.m. on two assigned days a week, and an application is necessary to join the program. The form can be found on the Joslyn Art Museums website under “Kent Bellows Mentoring Program.”

After joining the program, a mentee can choose from various focuses such as painting, mixed media, fashion and photography. There are three semesters yearly, and a new focus can be picked each semester. Students from high schools all over Nebraska can send an application and be given an opportunity to build a portfolio, partake in exhibitions, meet similar people, and work towards scholarships.

The program’s name comes from Kent Bellows, a notable Nebraskan artist whose impressive realism style resulted in his work being praised throughout the United States. The KBMP is currently using Bellow’s original studio to host the program. By preserving his original studio as it was left, students get a glimpse into who he was and the mind of a fellow artist.

The inside of the studio is encased with art supplies and students’ art pieces. Mentees are given all the materials and space they need to create, along with mentors who are always available. Expression is essential in the program; everything a mentee makes will be entirely their own and nothing is forced. Every artist has the right to express themselves as they choose, creating a comfortable dynamic with everyone in the program.

Sara Bradshaw, the program’s assistant, has worked at KBMP since 2021 but has been in the program since 2015 as a mentee. Bradshaw discussed how big of an impact the program left on her, resulting in her wanting to help fellow mentees that go through the program have just as good of an experience.

 When asked what the program’s mission is, Bradshaw felt that it’s to allow young artists to find themselves as artists and help them understand that the arts are something one can be successful in as a career. “The program is a home, artists are very misunderstood, and this is a place where they can be safe and around like-minded people,” Bradshaw said.

This mentorship is like no other and brings a unique approach. Art created by the mentees can be found in exhibitions throughout the year. These exhibitions help artists see what a career in the arts might look like by giving them a chance to get their name out, make their first sale, and help fund the program. The Kent Bellows Mentorship program is fueling new generations of confident and successful artists by providing an inviting home full of opportunity.