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Sugar House Journal

Visual Art Institute announces art classes for kids, teens and adults

Dec 06, 2021 15h37 ● By Anagha Rao

All classes are held in person at the VAI location at 2901 S. Highland Drive. (Photo courtesy Visual Art Institute)

By Anagha Rao | [email protected]

The Visual Art Institute is a premier art institute in Sugar House that strives to nurture creative expression and foster artistic development in people of all ages and artistic abilities. By doing so, they hope that students will discover their own artistic voices and improve their lives. 

The organization was founded by Stephanie Burn, a college professor at Utah State University, in 1978 when she realized that many of her college students lost their ability to think creatively. In 1998, Bruce Robertson took over as executive director. That same year, VAI began expanding its art programs into Title I schools and providing funding assistance for low-income students. 

The Visual Art Institute offers classes for artists of all ages. Art instruction is available for pre-k artists (2-5), kids (5-11), teens (13-18), and adults (18+). All classes are held in person at the VAI location at 2901 S. Highland Drive. 

Recently, they opened up a new location in Alpine where classes are taught by Shelly Young. She studied at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy and has several years of teaching experience. 

Adults who want to learn drawing can take foundations of drawing. Artists interested in painting can take watercolor. For adults willing to travel, the VAI offers landscape painting, in which participants travel as a group to areas of Utah to paint. The VAI also offers ceramic classes where adults can learn basic clay techniques for hand-building, wheel-throwing, and finishing. 

“Building with your hands and shaping clay is very therapeutic, and from COVID-19, people wanted to do something hands on and artistic,” said Megan Hindman, program assistant and instructor for the VAI. 

For kids ages 5-11, VAI offers intro to art, ceramics, superhero art, and mixed media classes. Each kids class starts off with an imagination drawing session where the kids get the chance to be creative and use their imagination to make art with no rules or boundaries. 

“The imagination drawing is one of my favorite parts of teaching the kids classes,” said Hindman. 

In August, the Visual Art Institute held their biggest event of the year—the Family Fun Fair, a carnival-style event with food, games, activities and prizes. This event raised money for furthering the Visual Art Institute’s mission to bring art to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. 

One of the newest classes that the VAI offers is a class on Procreate. “I like showing people how to use Procreate because it’s such a powerful drawing tool,” said Hindman. 

By November 2022, the VAI will be moving to a new building in the Sugar House area. “Currently, we are working on a plan to fundraise so we can build our own building,” said Hindman. In their new building, they plan to include a computer lab, a 3D printer, a larger ceramics area and much more. 

For class information, visit