We are a children’s art studio, at the core we believe that art, creativity and joy are necessary as tools for co-creating a better world for all.
Our studio has had to improvise and change in the last year, as we put on hold our in-person classes for safety. Our teachers are still out there in the world serving children, but until spring 2021 we will continue to pause in person. We still work with our community partners doing projects, sell and give away art kits to children, and deliver free educational materials so the work we do can be accessible to many.
Our studio was born as a social art project designed to serve + sustain itself. This is an experiment, really. One we take seriously and put lots of care into. Thank you for being on this journey with us.
Our bright space is thoughtfully curated and designed for the needs of children, and to be warm, joyful, and welcoming. We are located in a mixed residential and retail neighborhood in the West End of Portland, Maine at the edge of a beautiful park and playground and a nearby urban food forest. We believe that shared, joyful, welcoming and creative space, is a good thing to attempt to take on. Even though the studio isn’t able to bring in lots of children and community physically during winter/spring 2021, we hope as a lab – a site of envisioning and creativity, that through our kits, videos, and other projects it can still serve and safely welcome creativity.
some of our values
We place children, with so much respect and care, at the center of all we do. Our teachers put together this list, and we will continue to edit and evolve it. We think about:
* The whole child: social & emotional development and inclusion within a caring, evolving community
* The child as communicator: language development through participation, listening, expression of all kinds
* The child as co-creator: project-based, hands-on, and individual learning through collective belonging
* The child as artist: centering arts, creativity + imagination in all we do
* The child as informed citizen: community member, listened to, global & ecological participant
Wow, in March 2020 our entire little art studio had to pause, but we are still open!
Here are some of the things we are working on, and will slowly be launching in Winter 2021:
ART KITS Creative, all-natural, and post-consumer/locally sourced and made.
EDUCATION Community art, education + public art with community partners
ART AS TOOL FOR CO-CREATING A BETTER WORLD We continue to work with various community partners and organizations on creative community art and education projects. Aiming to build relationships based on reciprocity, we are deeply grateful for the powerful work and learning with other organizations, some of our community partners and project collaborators include Space Gallery, Portland Museum of Art, Birth Roots, Portland Lantern Walk, Tempo Art, Heartfelt School, Bowdoinham Community School, Portland Society of Architects The Complete City Reimagined Cultivating Community, Indigo Arts Alliance, I’m Your Neighbor Books, and more.
Our collaborative team includes skilled and caring lead teachers. We are a unique group, each of us having different, skilled/certified training and experience in: Columbia Teachers College Reading and Writing Program, Reggio Emilia, Public Schools, Waldorf Schools and pedagogy, Collaborative Leadership, Social Justice curriculum and Art pedagogy of all kinds and more. We bring in supportive art assistants, collaborators and partners as we go.
Lead Director, Christina B, is an artist, mama + teacher who has created and taught in all kinds of spaces. She is deeply grateful for her many mentors and visionaries who continue to influence the studio, one in particular, Josephine Herrald Love, Detroit Arts leader – who told her that the job of an artist and teacher is to learn about children and that if all she ever did was make self-portraits with children over and over to learn about them, that would be a job well done.
Christina makes her home in Maine with her daughter Melu, Pippy (the cat) and winter surfing, tech advisor husband Pete, but she was born in the midwest and lived all over the country growing up. She is grateful for her loving lineage from her grandmothers, the family grocery store, her teacher/art teacher mom, strong aunts who love to cook. Making art with folks in gardens, churches, fire stations, art/architecture colleges, elementary + pre-schools, community centers + lots of spaces in-between. Teaching pre-school children all the way up to college students at places like: University of Detroit School of Architecture and area schools, Kingswood Academy of Art, Interlochen Center for the Arts, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Rhode Island School of Design, Advent elementary School in Boston while doing other community based, public art and collaborative teaching gigs. Most recently, as Associate Professor of Art at Maine College of Art here in Portland (before she had her baby and started studio!). She’s got on-the-ground knowledge + grateful to have studied some diverse art/creative pedagogies including Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Waldorf inspired, Social Sculpture in places like Mexico, Italy, Germany, France and Detroit. With a background in textiles, sculpture and public art from studies at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture and Weimar Jena Akademie and collaborative leadership work as a facilitator, consultant and supporter of folks in the fields of creativity, teaching and service/public engagement. As an artist, she’s shown her work both nationally and internationally and has been fortunate enough to receive awards and grants to help make that possible. ALSO, she loves pattern, bright colors, wearing scarves, things that are made by hand, learning + reflecting to co-create a better world, people welcoming one another, meeting new friends and drinking coffee + tea:)
Below image is Melu + Christina B installing voting like colorful signs of planting phrases and recipes in French, Arabic and English, a public art project in downtown Portland Maine, funded in part by Tempo Arts and located at Boyd Street Urban Farm.
a few other things we are thinking about…
1. can love be an art material?
What if love – as an action both internal + lived, is essential to creating a better world? We’re experimenting with claiming ‘love’ as an art material. How do we really put it into action, and also not create or reduce our potential for harm? For us this takes reflection, learning + unlearning, doing equity and anti-racism work, and reflecting more on lessons learned. We aim to keep love at the center of all that we do.
“When people are loving, it’s a different world. It’s an amazing world. It’s a world of peace.” – Bell Hooks, writer, scholar, intellectual leader
2. can we co-create space where we feel joyful, safe and ready to make + learn?
We believe that folks gathering together – of different ages, viewpoints, languages, religions, races, cultures, and more – through making – (food or craft or art) is a great thing. We strive to do this through our various projects, collaborations, always working to learn more as we go, and feel incredibly grateful for the gift of community diversity in all its forms. We work intentionally on thinking about how to create space that feels safe.
We also strive to create experiences that are both free + paid (artists and teachers need to be paid), and happen in both private and public spaces. We believe that opportunities for conscious creativity should be accessible to all. We are very into setting up the conditions for creativity to blossom. We also do this in our community work, taking our art-making to public space, in our community projects. We believe ‘studio’ is wherever you create and reflect. (the sidewalk, the forest, the kitchen) LOVE LAB STUDIO happens in different spaces.
3. could creativity be one key to co-creating a better + more just world?
We believe creativity thrives when nurtured, and that it is good for us as individuals and society. It’s not that we all have to think of ourselves as artists, but what if we feel more empowered to act on our potential to co-create a better world? Imagine too, that creativity is an essential life ingredient for wholeness – to open up life, beautify it, slow it (or us) down + support the shine We’re talking about engaging in creativity in a way that supports us to pause, get more connected to nature, ourselves, both the material/form (and unseen/spirit/other) parts of our world. The idea that “everyone is an artist” means to some that you are by nature of being human, creative. Yes. Forget anything you ever heard about yourself doubting that.
You are also creating, right now. This very minute.
We want to mirror that creativity back to you, so we can all have more beauty. And empower us all – all ages, to work together to create something more evolved. Can we co-create a loving, better world for all? We can try, and creativity might be one piece of this. Let’s do it!