Make Space pairs 16 sixth-grade girls—all of whom attend Anna Julia Cooper School in the East End of Richmond—with 16 women for a year of mentorship and art-making. VisArts launched the program in the fall of 2008, then called Space of Her Own, and since then it has affected the lives of more than 200 women and girls. Make Space is an affiliate member of the Virginia Mentoring Partnership.
The big/little pairs meet on Thursdays after school (3:30-6:30 pm) from October through April and create art together in VisArts’ studios. The artwork the pairs make together, like hand-sewn pillows, wheel-thrown clay vessels, lanterns, glass light catchers and self-portrait paintings—are saved until our year’s end celebration, when the girls take the art projects home to decorate their own cozy space!. The work results in 16 colorful and inspiring rooms that give each girl a space to make her own. Over the years, many women and girls have formed lasting relationships that extend through middle school, high school and even college.
At Make Space our goals are to provide access to meaningful arts experiences, provide creative outlets to promote self-confidence, promote a positive future orientation, and foster a mentoring relationship with a caring adult. Our art workshops also provide girls an opportunity to practice topics explored in our “Girl Talk” life skills sessions such as self-esteem, communication, teamwork, self-efficacy, and perseverance.
In addition to meeting with the girls, mentors also attend their own training sessions once a month throughout the year. These sessions are led by guest speakers from organizations that serve youth in the Richmond community such as Mentor Virginia and SCAN, and are designed to expand the mentorship skills of each woman.
See the program in action by following the Make Space Instagram page! @makespace_visarts
Become a Mentor!
Each year, VisArts recruits women to serve as Make Space mentors. Mentors do not have to have previous mentorship or arts experience, just a willingness to try new things! We look for applications that show:
- Enthusiasm for working with young people
- Dependable with a positive attitude
- Openness to new experiences
- Interest in serving their community
- Commitment to consistent attendance
- Supporting, guiding and building a trusting relationship with a young person
- Building community with other women from around the city
- Art-making workshops and reunions
- Enhanced leadership skills
- Trainings around relationship building, positive youth development, trauma awareness
- Gift certificate for a free multi-week class at Visual Arts Center
Mentors must have the capacity to commit to:
- Weekly classes on Thursday evenings from 3:30-6:30 p.m. October through April
- Five training sessions each month during the program
- A potential weekend day in January for home visits
Applications for mentors for the 2023-2024 program year are now open!
Mentor Applications are due by September 15, 2023
VisArts encourages all women to apply and will prioritize applications from BIPOC individuals.
If you’d like to learn more about the program, reach out to: Liana Elguero, Community Programs Manager at [email protected]
Become a Sponsor
For Make Space to be successful, VisArts needs both monetary and in-kind donations. Companies have donated everything from fabric and paint to photography supplies and bed frames. We recognize all our sponsors in Make Space’s print and web materials, and sponsors are also invited to the closing ceremony, which is held in May.