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!
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.
“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.”
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 Programs
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.