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Our Vision

Frequently Asked Questions


What's a Community Art Studio?

A Community Art Studio is a place where people from ALL walks of life can come to make art for free, take workshops at no or low cost, exhibit, sell and celebrate their art work and handicrafts, and collaborate on creative activities and events that help them better understand themselves and their communities. Community Art Studios also do community outreach work through hosting free "pop-up art studios" at local events or businesses.


You mean, I can just walk in and make art for free?

Yes! That's the whole point of the studio! Pay-What-You-Like donations are always welcome to help us cover studio costs and from time to time there may be a specific workshop that asks for a registration fee for specialty materials, but other than that, everything is FREE!


What kind of Art do you do at the studio?

We enjoy helping people make ALL kinds of art with all kinds of materials and are open to learning about new ways of expressing ourselves that we haven't heard about before! We like painting, sculpting, drawing, collaging, writing, acting, wood carving, weaving, puppeteering, dancing, singing, knitting, gardening, making found object art, mixed media art, performance art, parade art, protest art, celebration art.... You get the idea.


What kind of materials do you use to make your art?

We use traditional art materials (like paint, chalk pastels, clay, etc) to make art but we also like to use non traditional materials to make art with. That might mean using an old door for a canvas, or making a sculpture out of old bicycle parts, or a mosaic out of beach glass and broken china. We love to explore and experiment with what we can make out of things that other people might not think twice about throwing away - which is why we're happy to receive donations of unusual or gently used art materials of all kinds for use in our studio!


Do I need to be an artist to come to your studio or take part in your events?

NO!!! Just be yourself. We believe that everyone is an artist at heart, and that your unique way of expressing yourself (no matter how good or bad you may think it is) is just as important as anyone else's.


What if I want to become a better artist - will you teach me?

Good question. We believe that the more you create things that come from your heart, the more you will learn to appreciate and love what you make. That being said, we also believe that our community members have a lot of great skills and resources to share and pass on to one another. If there is something you want to know how to do, or learn how to do differently, ask the other people who are making art in the studio if they can help you out. One day you might be asked to do the same for them! We will also host workshops and Each One Teach One's where you can learn new things.


What's an Each One Teach One?

An Each One Teach One (EOTO) is a kind of mini workshop where a member of our community (maybe you!) passes on a simple skill or technique they know and enjoy using to others in the spirit of passing on that knowledge so that it doesn't disappear and can continue to make people's lives better (More information on what EOTO's are all about coming up!)


Why do we need a community art studio when we have Art Galleries and places to take art classes?

Well, first off, let us tell you just how much we love art galleries, art schools, art classes, artist co-ops, groups and collectives! We believe that the work a community art studio does compliments and supports what they do while at the same time serving a need in the community that no one else is addressing. Believe it or not, a lot of the people we meet and work with have never been to an art gallery, and don't think they'd feel comfortable in one. Many of these people also associate art classes with a time in their life when the art they made was criticized. Community art studios are about providing a safe, non-judgemental place for people to access the materials and resources to make stuff that makes them feel good about being themselves. We hope to remind people that everything they create tells a story about who they are and why they matter, and that everything they make - even the "ugly" stuff - is beautiful and important. Once people understand this, we believe they might also feel more comfortable going to an art gallery and appreciating the artwork of others, or taking a class that can help them tell their stories in a new or different way!


Why is it called the "Community Art Studio Movement"?

The term "Community Art Studio movement" refers to the recent and intentional revival of creating storefront spaces in struggling or revitalizing neighbourhoods where people of ALL kinds can come to express themselves, share their creative skills and connect with others for free. Spaces like this are meant to bring together different types of people - particularly those who have been marginalized - in order to promote positive self identities, build relationships, and strengthen communities through creative, community driven action.


Where did the Community Art Studio Movement come from?

While Community Art Studios are inspired by a number of things, including the communities they live in, there are three recent influences that should be acknowledged. The influences of: the Public Homeplaces and Secret School groups that evolved out of slavery and the civil rights movement; the Outsider Art movement that emerged from Art Therapy practices after the First World War; and The American Federal Arts Project that grew out of the depression of the 1930's.


• Secret Schools and Public Homeplaces evolved out of a need to preserve, learn and pass on the cultural traditions, skills and knowledge of African Americans who were denied opportunities to attend school and gather together in public places. In secret, and at great risk to their lives and well being, these marginalized individuals would pass on their traditions, stories, skills and resources to one another in their homes and places of worship. This came to be known as the Each One Teach One method.


• Outsider Art is often described as art that has been created by individuals or groups with no formal artistic training for the purposes of self expression, personal growth and psychological well being. Early outsider art was often created by individuals undergoing treatment for mental health concerns and/or disability, providing people who did not have or could not use words, a way to effectively communicate their experiences to others. The early art therapists who worked with these individuals at various hospitals and asylums found that patients often found relief through expressing themselves creatively, and gained insight into their problems through externalizing them in a work of art that they could examine, appreciate, and reflect upon.


• The Depression Era's Federal Arts Project's goals focused on employing out of work artists, and finding ways of bringing art into public places - such as schools, libraries and hospitals. Contrary to the tastes of the time, The Federal Arts Project made no distinction between representational and non-representational art styles and forms. This refusal to classify art as either "high" or "low" provided employment for many groundbreaking contemporary and folk artists, craftspeople, educators and researchers that wouldn't otherwise have been recognized as artists or considered employable.


The modern day Community Art Studio honours these movements by drawing inspiration from them. We seek to create safe, welcoming spaces where everyone, particularly those whose voices have been marginalized, can come to express themselves, find relief, share their skills, build their resources, and connect with others through enjoyable, creative activities for free or low cost.