The campers in instructor Lindsey Tucker’s art camp, “Wild About Art and Animals!,” get their materials ready for a three-dimensional project Thursday afternoon. The Albany Museum of Art conducts the camps each summer, with the last of the series of six camps set for this week. (July 11, 2013)

The campers in instructor Lindsey Tucker’s art camp, “Wild About Art and Animals!,” get their materials ready for a three-dimensional project Thursday afternoon. The Albany Museum of Art conducts the camps each summer, with the last of the series of six camps set for this week. (July 11, 2013)

ALBANY, Ga. -- There are some unusual critters in the Albany Museum of Art.

Walk in and you're liable to see the likes of honey badgers, owls, spiders, fish ... even extinct creatures like triceratops. And don't forget the world's biggest rodent.

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Josh Ward gets to work Thursday preparing his afternoon project. Lindsey Tucker, the camp instructor and an art teacher in the Dougherty County School System, says the campers impress her every year with their talent and skill. (July 11, 2013)

But that doesn't mean museum officials need to call an exterminator ... or an archeologist for that matter. No, these creatures sprang from the minds and talents of some creative youngsters who are attending a summer art camp hosted by the museum.

Last week, young camp-goers were finding art in materials they had at hand, items such as buttons, plastic containers, votive candle holders. The materials, most of which otherwise would have been discarded, have found new life in the hands of the young artists, transformed into sculptures, mixed media pieces and even a chandelier.

"They're very creative," Lindsey Tucker, who's in her fifth summer as an art camp instructor, said of her budding artist students.

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From left, Zoe Pride, Tia Berry and Damian Walker sort multi-colored buttons and tabs that were to be used Thursday afternoon to create a three-dimensional effect on the posters that the campers were working on. The campers were using various media during the week to bring wild creatures to life. (July 11, 2013)

This was the fifth of six week-long camps the museum is conducting for children in grades 1-5 for the coming 2013-14 academic year. Last week's camp was "Wild About Art and Animals!" Tucker, a six-year teacher in the Dougherty County School System who teaches art at Westtown and Alice Coachman elementary schools, says she's been amazed by the campers' creativity and knowledge, and the growth of many of the campers from year to year. All but two of her students last week were return campers, some having attended three years.

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Hardy Gay begins drawing his poster for a three-dimensional art project that the “Wild About Art and Animals!” campers were working on Thursday afternoon. (July 11, 2013)

"This little 6-year-old (Hardy Gay) asked me, 'Ms. Lindsey, can we make a capybara?' We looked it up. It's actually the world's largest rodent," she said. "And he was able to tell me all these weird facts about them."

Hardy, who had attended all of the camps the museum offered this summer, said his favorites have been "making animals and painting."

"First I made a bull, now I'm making a triceratops," he said, nodding affirmatively when asked if he thought he might become an artist when he grows up. He rattled off an extensive list of animals and fish -- including a platypus, catfish, seahorse and alligator -- that have shown up in his work this summer, which included creating a tie-dyed shirt.

Asked about some of the projects her young artists were working on, Tucker said they had made "stained glass out of Plexiglas. The children drew their animals on that and then we went back with Sharpies and added the color. We drew with glue this morning (Thursday) and we're letting it dry. We'll go back tomorrow (and color the ocean scenes) with oil pastels. That's going to be with the stained glass as well. The glue will act like beading."

Earlier in the day, the campers created sculptures from recycled items. The three-dimensional figures included owls, a spider with a feather in its hair and a pterodactyl wearing a baseball cap.

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Among the projects by campers who have attended the week-long art camps this summer at the Albany Museum of Art is this chandelier constructed of recycled materials. The lighted sculpture is being displayed in the children’s art studio at the museum. The camps are for children in grades 1-5. (July 11, 2013)

The items used to create the art "were just going to be thrown away," Tucker said.

"He's one of the most talented children I've ever worked with," she said, referring to Josh Ward. "He just grows every year."

Another student, Cole Blakey, "loves to build. The way he creates 3-D objects is fascinating to watch."

The campers get help with putting their projects together, but the concepts are their own. Tucker says she gives the students an overall idea for a project, the campers bounce ideas off each other around and then they create.

"They have to design it, how it's going to stand and function," she said.

Thursday afternoon, the campers were using materials such as multi-colored plastic tabs that were donated by a pharmacy to create three-dimensional posters of animals.

"We're sorting the buttons and we're going to make animals out of the buttons," Griffin Bearden said. "I'm going to make a honey badger."

Earlier, Griffin said, he made "a Thor hammer, like the superhero."

He was one of the return campers. "I liked it last summer so I came back this summer," he said.

Damian Walker also had plans to create a honey badger for the project. It was his second year at the AMA camp.

"I've been here last year," he said. "It's fun to be here and I have fun with Ms. Lindsey."

Asked which piece was his favorite among the ones he created, Damian said, "I like all of them. I just can't decide which one's best."

Cristin Kirbo, director of marketing and promotions for the AMA, said camp attendance has been strong this summer, including some sellouts. That happened despite the fact that some of the extensive renovation work the museum has been experiencing has continued this summer.

The week-long camps started in early June and wrap up this week with "Build It!" Taught by instructor David Griffin, museum officials say campers will use their imagination to make three-dimensional creations, including buildings and animals.

The museum is located at 311 Meadowlark Drive, adjacent to Darton State College. Contact the museum at (229) 439-8400 or visit online albanymuseum.com.