VisArts Closes Out the 2021-2022 Make Space Program Year with an Artful Closing Ceremony

March 15, 2022 News

The Visual Arts Center held the closing ceremony for the 2021-22 cohort of the Make Space program. Fourteen 6th grade students from Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal school were paired with 14 women for a year of mentorship and art-making that culminated in a variety of art projects that were installed in the girls’ bedrooms, giving each girl a space to make her own.

Most of the art-making over the year is done in the VisArts studios. VisArts teaching artists like Kourtenay Plummer, Angelique Scott, Nastassja Swift, Amarise Carreras, Laurianda and Unicia Buster, to name a few taught the pairs wheel throwing, felting, collage, sewing and portrait painting. “The best part of Make Space is getting to watch the relationships that are built throughout our time together.” Says Liana Elguero, VisArts’ Community Programs Manager. “Even though the program was shortened this year due to covid, you could feel how invested everyone was in the program, and how supportive they all were of one another. It takes such a group effort to create a space where everyone feels comfortable and safe to be themselves. We are so grateful for all the mentors, mentees, instructors, and program staff that collectively build that environment. To me, there is nothing better than being in a room full of ladies learning from each other, laughing, and creating together, and to be able to help facilitate those moments is the best part of my job.”

This was the first group of girls and mentors back at VisArts since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic so there were a few challenges getting the program adapted to meet the safety needs of mentees and their partner school, Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School. These changes include requiring masking at all times, designing activities to accommodate safe social distancing and requiring staff, mentors and guest artists to be fully vaccinated.

“We had to deal with a lot of moving parts to make sure we were all healthy, but it was worth it to see the joy on the girls’ faces when they would go to the Fiber room or the Clay studio,” says Katie Thomson, Make Space Program Co-Leader.