Easthampton arts non-profit stimulates the creativity of young participants on behalf of the scholarship fund

EASTHAMPTON – Art was in bloom on the Cottage Street promenade as Resilient Community Arts held its first-ever ‘Doodle-A-Thon’.

Despite a drizzle late Saturday morning, the creativity of the handfuls of young people alongside their families was not dampened.

Five-year-old Olivia Downey and her brother, Camden Downey, 2, lay opposite each other along the sidewalk in front of Nashawanuck Pond, stitching individual mosaic designs onto a tile. Olivia, who enjoys drawing and coloring at home, selected a star to place at the center of her work and Camden selected a number of shades of blue to decorate her room.

“It was fantastic to see so many people,” said Maddie McDougall, co-founder and director of Resilient Community Arts, on Saturday. “Our workshops were all full and our maker market was full of people. It was awesome.

Resilient Community Arts, in the Eastworks building, operates as a nonprofit organization through fiscal sponsorship with Springfield’s Pioneer Valley Project. The organization offers programming in several media, including painting, drawing, printmaking, macrame and textile arts. The non-profit organization also offers personalized group programs for all ages and backgrounds.

The Doodle-A-Thon event was organized in part to celebrate Youth Art Month as well as to raise awareness that visual arts education is a key factor in the total education program that develops citizens of a global society, and as a fundraiser to benefit Resilient Community Art’s Art is for Everybody Scholarship Fund.

The scholarship fund is for young people from low-income homes to participate in Resilient Community Arts and The Collaborative studio programs for free. The goal of the event was to raise $2,000.

Through a partnership with Sharon Leshner of Color Collaborative Studios, also in the Eastworks building, Resilient Community Arts offers after-school programs from K-12.

In addition to the mosaic workshop, patrons had the opportunity to doodle on more than 30 feet of space, make tie-dye t-shirts and listen to live music.

Judah Green, four, and his sister, Sarrah Green, 1½, laughed and clapped as they swirled colors at one of two doodle stations. The Green children are no strangers to art as both their parents, Priya and Andrae Green, are accomplished artists.

Priya Green, who has a studio at her home in Springfield, is also known for a mural she created on the Easthampton Feed building along the Manhan Rail Trail on Mechanic Street.

This spring, Andrae Green will work alongside artist Kim Carlino to lead a participatory art project with students from JFK Middle and Northampton Secondary Schools. Through student workshops and a diverse team of artists, this project will use color, human form and geometry to explore unity, connection and identity. All these efforts will result in two murals in the two schools.

Student perspective

The Saturday event also featured a maker’s market showcasing the work of artists and students from the nonprofit’s area. Artist Neysa Tapanes, whose work was for sale on the market, discovered Resilient Community Arts after participating in the non-profit organization’s Womxn support group.

Tapenes, who also volunteers with the nonprofit, said it was great to see students from the organization’s after-school program and their work on display.

“I thought I quit doing visual arts after high school, but I found it again after taking one of the programs,” she said. “(Resilient Community Arts) is really great and provides great opportunities for those who can’t afford it – and they continue to encourage (students) to come back.”

For those who would like to donate, but were unable to attend the event, donations can also be made through GoFundMe at https://bit.ly/3iKFlP7.

Emily Thurlow can be contacted at [email protected]

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