Bite the Bagel Deli Café hosted an art exhibit this week featuring designs by students from the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department’s Youth Arts Camp.

“I like to see the kids enjoying coming out and being received like this, and the community gets to look at their art work,” said instructor Amelia Rabroker of the paintings and papier mache pieces.

The theme of the four-day camp was, “Looking through the Eyes of American Artists.”

Students studied artists Andy Warhol, Faith Riggold, Georgia O’Keeffe and Wayne Thiebaud, and re-created their pieces into personalized masterpieces.

“It wasn’t so much about copying them but it was about exposure and being inspired by that artist,” Rabroker said. “We focused on lines and shapes and taking something that’s two-dimensional and making it three-dimensional.”

Rabroker, a Killeen Independent School District employee, works with several local schools and organizations through her Tap Tap Art School.

Overall, she said, art education benefits young people in many ways.

“The problem-solving skills that come with it are amazing,” she said.

“It helps to relieve stress if anything is bothering them and it helps them express themselves in a way they can’t do with words.”

Rabroker recalled one of her students, Daniela Collado-Cintron, 10, who used her father, Alwyn, deployed to Afghanistan, as the focus of one of her paintings.

“He means a lot to me and I love him very much,” Collado-Cintron said. “Since he’s gone I wanted to make a portrait of him to keep in my room.”

Friends and family of the artists came out to the showcase along with several other supporters, including Harker Heights Mayor Pro Tem Rob Robinson.

Melody Jackson’s autistic daughter, Imani, 9, took part in the camp this year, which helped bring out her creativity, Jackson said.

“Mrs. Rabroker teaches them to be creative but she’s also teaching them skills, so it’s not just about them drawing pictures, they’re learning as they draw.”

When Sara Januszka, owner of Bite the Bagel, was approached by Rabroker to display the exhibit she did not hesitate to say yes.

“We’re all about being part of the community and it’s not just about art, it’s about the kids and getting people out to enjoy things,” Januszka said. “What better place to do it than here. ... Oprah said it years ago, you have to give to get; it goes both ways.”

Cambridge Ewing, 8, and her family, sat and enjoyed the treats offered by the cafe while taking in the art collection.

“I learned about some really great artists and I also learned how to do a lot of things I didn’t know how to do before,” Ewing said.

Heidi Ewing, Cambridge’s mother, said the beauty of the program was that it allowed students to see how much they could accomplish in a week.

“It stimulates part of their brain that isn’t stimulated by reading, writing and math,” she said. “She’s never done any sort of art training before and she really enjoyed it.”

The showcase was not only significant for the kids, but for the community as well, Rabroker said.

“So often the arts are not as celebrated as they should be, and this is the way you do it,” she said. “You bring it out to the public. ... You can’t help but enjoy this.”

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