One Neighborhood, an OpenDoors Arts Program, was created by long time board member and supporter, Dr. Eric Howard, with Roots & Wings Founder and donating artist and sponsor, Ginger Hagood, Tim Schaller (Wedge Brewery) and Darren Green (Old Wood Company). The vision of One Neighborhood is that students from neighborhoods surrounding the River Arts District continue to comfortably access the quickly gentrifying arts district in ways that enriches the lives of urban youth, and promotes visual arts as a viable career. OpenDoors and One Neighborhood also train and supports RAD artists as they become teaching artists.
Recently, the Wedge Arts LCC donated space for seven teaching artists and mentors to work with more than 15 middle school girls in a program we called, “I Am a Work of Art” as they learned about spray painting technique, vision boarding, fashion and garment upcycling and design. This was only meant to be a six week series, but thanks to the generosity of Wedge Arts LLC, social workers and mentors from Asheville City Schools, and our devoted teaching artists, this program has continued much longer.
Teaching and donating Artist Michelle Baker said, “What I loved most about the girls’ art project was watching each girl develop her individual style. For most of them, this was the first time using spray paint. Each one was eager to try different techniques, and pretty soon, each developed her own way of working with color, shape, stencils, and words.”
When it came time to work on their sweatshirts, they naturally integrated the use of spray paint with the fabric paint, creating their own unique fashion. This project confirmed for me that when kids are provided tools and taught different ways to use them, each will freely explore and develop their own creative vision. Their enthusiasm and pride were the invisible, yet palpable, results that I hope will continue to inspire them as they look at and wear their creations.”
Michelle is a long time donor to Art Affair, and her contribution this year, titled, ‘End of the Line,’ the last of a series of abstract color field work is a 36″x36″ acrylic on canvas composition exploring the bold use of color and texture. Michelle’s abstract work invites viewers to have their own individual emotional and interpretive experiences. It is in this freedom of interpretation where Ms. Baker believes the creative process continues, as the painting continues to evolve in the eyes of the beholder. Michelle’s piece will be available via mobile bidding starting March 8 at noon, and will close on March 11 at 10:00 pm.
Megan Kelly, a favorite new teaching artist with the girls, says the love is mutual. Megan reports, “The girls have been wonderful to work with. They’re really receptive to the project and seem to be really excited about exploring spray paint as a new method of creating art. Many of them haven’t ever picked up a can before and have really taken to it quickly. It’s also wonderful to have such a large group of girls/women together creating. Our spray painting community is so largely male, and it’s inspiring for me anytime I see another woman with a spray can! I feel like having a strong group of women in my life is so pivotal in my growth as an artist and as a person, so I can only hope that this project can have the same effect on the girls we’re working with!”
Megan was recently featured in the Asheville Citizen Times where she talks more about the girls’ art program and her piece being auctioned in this year’s Art Affair, ‘Frida Braiding Her Hair,’ a 24’x24’ oil and acrylic collaboration with Dustin Spagnola.
Written by Jennifer Ramming