Co-director of The Makery, a mobile art lab, finds beauty in creating art from recycled materials.
What do you do? I co-direct a mobile art lab called The Makery that celebrates reuse and raw creativity. The main thing I spend my time doing is teaching weekly toddler art and sensory play classes. The Makery also hosts art birthday parties, facilitates summer camps and creates community art experiences throughout the city.
How did you get started in that field? I have a social work degree, and with all of my positions, I found ways to incorporate the arts with children. Ten years ago, I started Hollow Earth Radio (HER) with my husband, and I continued creating arts programming like field recording workshops for children. Because of my work with HER, my husband and I began creating sound and visual art installations. I also worked as an art teacher at a Montessori preschool, had a baby, and as my baby became a toddler, I realized I could combine my love for creating art installations and working with children.
What’s a typical day like? A typical day involves prepping for toddler classes. I might test some slime recipes, physically map out the “art installation” I set up for toddlers each week, upload photos from class on Instagram, and pack The Makery truck with all the needed supplies for classes. On class day, I prepare the environment which feels like an art playground in a big beautiful building (Lakewood Seward Park Community Club). When families arrive, I am more of a guide than a teacher. I might give 10 second micro-lessons to convince a shy toddler to interact with the play dough or put their hands (or feet!) in paint.
What’s the best part of the job? I love that I get to create art installations for children! I find beauty in the process of making art, and I think toddlers really do, too. I enjoy seeing how children move around freely experimenting with materials. I get inspired by their interests and have been known to build an entire class around those interests. For instance, I once created a “things that roll” themed class based on a toddler’s obsession. I even enjoy the messes that are made. I have a whole collection of photographs I’ve taken of art messes that should be an art show one day.
What surprises people about what you do? I think people are surprised by the recycled materials I end up sourcing or incorporating in art class. I think a lot about how to use a thing, and use it over and over again in different ways, whether it’s an industrial discard or something from my recycling bin. It helps parents realize they can just as easily gather things that facilitate fun sensory experiences for their children at home.
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