Art Inspires Art - the Benefit of Creative Community

Saturday, April 30, 2016

"She's Alway's Watching" Marcy LaBella 2016 Tea Bowl handbuilt 

I have always been involved in creative community, ever since my earliest years as an artist.  I have always been creative and I cannot remember a time that I did not make art, write poetry, play music. I have always been drawn to other people who are similarly creative and have been lucky to have a large ecclectic quirky bunch of friends .  I am always interested in what people are making, their process, what they are doing, writing, playing.  In my teens and 20's I belonged to a large group of young artists and musicians who wrote and played their own music. We put on our own shows, made our own flyers the old fashion draw, cut, paste and xerox way.  We did our own promotions and supported each others work. Some of us were also actors, writers, poets, painters and photographers - we turned out for each others openings, plays and cheered each others success's even the minor ones.

"Wisdom" Lois Eldrich and Lori Lapin in Deep Discussion 

When I moved to a rural town in my early 30's I felt lost. While I loved my old farmhouse, the living in the country and room to spread out; there were no other artists here. The nearest city had no such arts community and I had come from New Haven Connecticut a city who has a proud and vibrant arts history, art followers and lots of artists. For a while I joined a grassroots gallery co-op that was short lived but vibrant. We threw fabulous opening for our revolving gallery shows and our opening turned into block parties with live music, belly dancers and shenanigans.  It was a short lived though fun ride and was quickly folded as we lacked the funding to continue our mission.  I finally found a home at a 60 plus year old co-op called Wesleyan Potters where they had just three crafts Ceramics, Fiber Arts and Metal Smithing. I had recently gotten back into ceramic sculpture and started taking classes there - soon I found a very active group of passionate artists.  I had already been taking ceramics there after a huge break from clay and was re-emmersed in this second craft.  I was already working in clay for 3 years at Wesleyan Potters when I applied for membership and was accepted into the of the guild and co-op as a juried member in clay and in metals.

She's Always Watching detail

She's Always Watching Detail

I currently teach in both both ceramic sculpture and jewelry making at this wonderful community arts center.  The best part of belonging to a co-op is NOT the 24/7 studio access which is sweet I have to admit.  It really is the mix of people that come through the doors, the fabulous wealth of knowledge from the members, instructors and students and the community coming together for our many events.  As in all co-ops we do lots of work together to make our co-op run smoothly but the exchange of ideas, opinions(more then you want sometimes), creative energy, wisdom, infectious enthusiasm from others working in your medium make it well worth the effort. We are like a big (100 member) slightly dysfunctional but still affectionate family.  It's definitely a place I think of as a second home.

Co-ops are only one place to connect to other artists - next time I will talk more about places to  meet with and connect with artists in your own community and online.



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