Thank you to the many who donated to this project and also those who volunteered to help! The Fidget Pillow Workshop was a success!


“The National Charity League girls came to help me set it all up; and Dianne Bernasconi, Jo Owen, Jessica Peppers, Linda Anderson McCool, Stephanie Bromley all donated generously of their supplies. Brandon McCool helped me take down all the overflow tables and chairs. Hilary Horne Finnegan, is shown explaining her passion for leading this project as she explains to the volunteers why these pillows are important to calm and comfort those with dementia, as it gives their fingers a fascinating tactile experience for discovery and ‘fidgeting’ with a better purpose. She taught all the girls how to thread a needle and knot it as they prepped a bunch ready to go for the group coming, they also sorted and displayed all the ribbons, yarns, trims, buttons, tassels and Pom poms. Hilary was so pleased with how many pillows will be going to new owners soon to bring them enjoyment. What a wonderful cause, next time we will have even more made (each time we expand the group).” – Nancy Raia

Community Outreach Director, Nancy Raia, led three groups of students in an exciting sport art competition – inspired by our current exhibit with Steven Lester!


Here are the winners!

St. Paul’s Academy 3-6th grade (art teacher Amanda Youngblood):
1st: Izzie Green (horse)
2nd: Addison Thomas (swimmer)


National Charity League 7th-12th (taught by Nancy Raia):
1st: Anna Schmidt (dancer)
2nd: Kenzie S. (runners)


Rotary Youth Club 3-6th grades (taught be Nancy Raia):
1st: Savannah Coleman (kickball)
2nd: Noe (athlete)


Thank you to our judges Bj Cooper, T.J. Rosandich, Susan McCullough, Bruce Larsen, and Steven Lester. Also, thanks to the United States Sports Academy for the tours of your facility filled with international sports art, and the support of this project.

Come by and see it through the month of August 2019!

Nancy is teaching out at Weeks Bay this week with help from Biologist, Angela Underwood!


“Meet Checkers, the corn snake! Angela told the students all about vertebrates and invertebrates today, and they learned about all the creatures who call the estuary their home. Checkers came out to show us his markings and how he constantly seeks the warmth (trying to get into Angela’s hair, or up her sleeve!)

As we learned how to draw and paint a pitcher plant, she then cut one open for us to see what it had “eaten.” We saw lots of ants in its stem and what looked like tobacco juice ! Then they tried their hand at printing the pitcher plant. They were good learners! Rotary Youth Club in action.”


– Community Outreach Director, Nancy Raia

“Finding the best pet for your family is like creating a work of art.” The Haven has spruced up their meet-and-greet area with two new custom-made wooden benches — painted by our one-and-only Nancy Raia!


It takes time, effort, and attention to detail and when complete is a rewarding experience. To get each animal ready for adoption, The Haven takes care of any health and behavioral needs, including spay/neuter, heartworm testing, and socialization. The Haven can help you decide which pet is right for your family. There is an area dedicated to meet and greet where pets and people can spend a little time getting to know each other. The Haven has spruced up this area with two new, custom-made wooden benches. Executive Director Michael Graham thought, “We are always thinking of creative ways to involve the community and inspire others to join the no-kill movement”, said Michael Graham, Executive Director for The Haven. “Joining forces with the Eastern Shore Art Center to design colorful and artistic benches made this vision a reality.”   


Read more here:

New mural going up at the Fairhope Library!


The ESAC Staff is taking time every day this week to paint a butterfly mural at the Fairhope Public LibrarySpecial thanks to the Library, City of Fairhope, the Baldwin County Association of REALTORS® and Baldwin County Trailblazers, Inc. for funding this pocket park project.  


Stay tuned, more to come!

It may be the end of summer, but we’re still celebrating at the Veterans’ home!


“Had a wonderful time painting summer fruits with the Veterans last week. One gentleman said he wasn’t a painter, but a singer. He was a professional singer and in the chorus in the military. I told him if he painted with me, we’d sing together…all artists love music too! I’d start a line, and he would boom in with his lovely tenor voice and carry the song! We covered “You are my Sunshine!” And “On top of old Smoky” and many more love songs he knew! The room had such a wonderful glow in it, with the artists busily painting and singing along.

I’m so appreciative of my great helpers, Joe Raia and Susan Wright (“Min”) who was in town for a visit. The vets were so kind in thanking us profusely for coming to bring them the activity. They have no idea how long our smiles remained on our faces as we drove away.

If I don’t say it enough, let me thank again the many people who support my work, and especially these two! Also shown is Shelly, the wonderful Recreational director there.”


Nancy Raia, Community Outreach Director

Eastern Shore Art Center hosts a group from Mobile Arc to create face mugs with local artist, Steven Dark.


Founded in 1956, Mobile Arc is one of the largest, most comprehensive service providers for people with disabilities in Alabama. Today, the nonprofit organization serves hundreds of adults in a variety of programs-includingpainting, pottery, dance, martial arts, and music.


The face mugs created at ESAC will be sold at Mobile Arc’s fundraiser Marc-Art! The annual event will take place at Azalea Manor, August 2ndat 6pm.


For more information on ESAC community outreach programming, contact ESAC Community Outreach Director Nancy Raia at 251-928-2228 or


For more information on Marc-Art or event sponsorship opportunities, contact Mobile Arc Development Director Amy Odom at 251-665-9646 or

When you think of fun, what is it? Well this great group of artists from Rotary Youth Club sure had ideas! This is how we finished off their poster they printed last month with artist Amos Kennedy. They drew themselves having fun and added a wash of watercolors. Next they designed the one they printed on fabric as a wall hanging with a border and added beads and yarn to show their personality. -Nancy Raia

Artist Amos Kennedy came a day early for a special workshop with the children from Rotary Youth Club! Amos began the workshop by talking about the basics of printmaking. Next he asked “What is text?” One of the students shot her hand up quickly and said “I know, I know! It’s when you send a message on your iPhone!” Everyone got a chuckle as Amos explained all of the parts and makings of putting the letters in the galley to print. Then each student got a chance to run the slab roller wheel and make a print.


While they were waiting their turn, Community Outreach Director, Nancy Raia, pulled out paper and asked them to draw a portrait of Amos. They quickly went to task, and he was delighted when he saw their drawings! We also had three teachers in attendance for the workshop too: Lynda Williams (Fairhope High School), Cindy Becker (Spanish Fort Elementary), and Linda Hill Duffis (Dunbar Magnet Performing Arts School). Sure was a great afternoon with Amos!

Southern Living

Eastern Shore Art Center’s own Nancy Raia has been featured in Southern Living!


The students in Nancy Raia’s art class at the Southwest Alabama Regional School for the Deaf and Blind do not need all of their senses to paint. Instead, all they need to use is their hearts.


Raia, a local artist and community outreach director at the Eastern Shore Art Center, has spent the last 10 years volunteering with students at the Mobile school. Though technically she’s teaching them how to make art, she insists that she’s the one doing the learning.


To read more, visit Southern Living online here!

#MyGivingStory #GivingTuesday


“Each day I am able to serve various communities, by teaching art to those who cannot afford it or have access to it. One of the organizations I work with is a local veteran’s home, that I provide supplies and instruction to through the Eastern Shore Art Center. Sometimes I will bring high school seniors with me in a project I piloted years ago, known as the “Senior to Senior” program. Today during my veteran’s home visit, one gentleman entered the room and shared his lovely coloring design with me. He said he loved to take art 80 years ago because all the girls were in the class! As we laughed and set up for the session, he reminisced about his art and sang to me. I found out later he’s the oldest surviving Alabama football player, still donning his championship ring! Don Salls, 1940-42! He later became one of the most winning coaches at Jacksonville State. I never know who I may encounter one day, but I am truly grateful for their friendships and how I can make their futures better and brighter.”


-Nancy Raia

Christmas Cards For Sale

Cards are available at ESAC for only $5 per pack! All proceeds benefit the Regional School for the Deaf and Blind‘s art program with Nancy!

Studying the style of the “Polka Dot Princess” (Yayoi Kusama) of Japan. Rotary Youth Club kids were all smiles today, but then they usually are at the Art Center!

Community Outreach means teaching without the limits of the walls that contain the Art Center. The mission of the Art Center’s Outreach Program is to make art experiences available to everyone. It responds to the needs of the community by bringing new learning to those seeking to discover the world of communication through art.

The Outreach Program is under the direction of Nancy Raia. Her role is to travel the county and beyond. She believes art brings us together and celebrates our differences. The Outreach Program embraces young and old, those with disabilities and chronic illnesses, and the underserved. Through art and the creative process, Nancy passionately works with those traumatized by natural and manmade disasters, helping them process their fears and frustrations, their anger and losses; leading them to a place of love, acceptance, and joy.

Community Outreach

Community Outreach Programs

Squeaky Sneakers

Squeaky Sneakers is a collaborative effort between the Art Center and Weeks Bay Reserve. It incorporates an integrated curriculum of art and science. Children between the ages of 4 and 16 explore the Weeks Bay watershed through experiential outdoor activities on and in the water, as well as nature hikes. Campers blend new knowledge and science techniques with personal creativity through art.


This project helps participants become more literal stewards of their coastal environment and fosters their personal connections to it. Each year, Squeaky Sneakers impacts approximately 375 children enrolled in local youth programs. Since this program began in 2008, it has twice won the Gulf of Mexico Guardian Award.

Senior to Senior

Senior to Senior partners high school art students with senior citizens in assisted living centers with the goal of linking the generations through art and conversation. The senior citizens socialize and gain a sense of accomplishment through completing art projects. Students gain an understanding not only of the challenges facing the elderly, but also how much wisdom comes with age.

Art Without Limits

Art Without Limits has provided art lessons for the children at the Southwest Alabama Regional School for the Deaf and Blind in Mobile for the past seven years. All lessons must be carefully adapted to those with visual and hearing disabilities. ESAC also uses this program to offer group and private lessons for artists of all ages with disabilities and chronic illnesses, reinforcing the belief that everyone has the ability to create art.


Internships are available on a limited basis and are open to high school and college students pursuing an art career. Students will learn all aspects of the Community Outreach Program, as well as develop lesson plans and eventually implement them. Previous interns have gone on to pursue careers in art therapy, teaching, and producing art professionally.


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