FALLS VILLAGE – The Art Garage at Housatonic Valley Regional High School has been revived, with students enthusiastically taking on projects suited to their individual tastes.
The space, adjacent to the Mahoney-Hewat Science and Technology Center behind the school, has been a free art studio since 2005, but its use dwindled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to a group of adults, including mentors John Brett, Delores Coan, Kitty Kiefer, Holly Reid and Amanda Sears, the garage is alive again with scores of students displaying their creativity.
Once open to just high school students, the program has expanded to offer Region 1 middle school students the same opportunities. The garage is open after school Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
On a recent day before the holiday break, several students worked on projects and sought help when needed from the mentors, who were pleased to offer tips and then let the students proceed on their own.
“This provides another after-school opportunity beyond sports,” Brett said.
Kiefer called the mentors “art enablers” with a wide range of skills who can offer instruction or advice.
The large room is full of supplies for pottery, painting, sewing, drawing, printmaking, collage, origami, beading, felting and more.
“Music and art are embedded in our lives,” Brett said. “It’s the blood of every community. One can practice art for life.”
Coan, who retired as chairwoman of ceramics at Hotchkiss School in Salisbury, was helping two girls working on potters’ wheels. She gave them encouragement as they produced pieces.
“I love working with youth,” she said. “It keeps me young.”
Kiefer, calling herself “an organizer,” gave a tour of the room and materials. Many of the items were color-coded for easy access.
“I’m also a resource person,” she said. “I find people.”
Kiefer also is responsible for finding equipment and supplies, pointing to two manual typewriters on which students can create designs.
“So many of them have never seen a typewriter,” she said.
Reid was in a corner that houses sewing machines. She helped students make pants, a vest and a shirt. She delights in their success.
Katelin Lopes, a sophomore from Falls Village, was making Christmas cards to distribute to her friends.
“I think art is a good way to express yourself,” she said.
Theodora Galvin was working with a 3-D printer for a senior Capstone project, while Marlowe LaPointe, a seventh-grader from Lee H. Kellogg School in Falls Village, was creating little ceramic figures that she looked forward to painting. Another student was making a bracelet out of beads as a Christmas present for her sister.
Brett said funding for the Art Garage comes from grants and an appeal letter. He plans to pursue nonprofit status.
Contact Ruth Epstein at email@example.com.
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