Local artist and art teacher Mindy Flexer believes in the power of art. “Just the idea of self-expression is so powerful. Seeing you’re unique when everyone tries to draw the exact same object and no one’s work comes out the same way is very affirming.” It’s these kind of life tools that she’s instilling in her students, from young children to adults, in her studio at the Greene Street Artists Cooperative (5225 Greene Street in Germantown).
A tour through her studio, which is also her living space, shows just how much a child can grow and evolve in self-expression. One of the projects displayed is a collection of busts by her current students of varying ages, using all kinds of materials to bring their features to life. There’s a wall of gesture drawings and paintings, where the children took turns posing in different gestures for each other and created whole scenes based around the movements. There’s also places all around the studio for honing observational skills through still life work.
Flexer sees the process of art as a counteractive response to the instant gratification of technology. I believe that to be so powerful in an age where our youngest children are surrounded by a digital information overload. ”Art makes you go through a process by forming an idea and following through until it’s a physical object.” It’s this process that slows children down and makes them realize how to follow through on any kind of experimental or creative thinking . She thinks it’s also an antidote to consumerism, where children (and adults) can see how to create beautiful and useful items on their own. ”Art is a good way of drawing upon your inner resources”, says Flexer, “helping students pull back and focus on their own gifts and possibilities.”
That’s where the Make-Ins come in, usually held around Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. Flexer opens her studio for a weekend and sets up a multitude of art supplies for families to create as many cards and little pieces of artwork as they would like. This year’s Valentine’s Day Make-In will have printmaking supplies, collage material, doilies, stamps, stickers, and all kinds of paper. Flexer said it’s fun to see how many new ways to use the materials and how the studio immediately becomes a little community with everyone exchanging ideas and inspiring each other. She said it’s also great to have a way to spend time as a family without buying things, and then leave with art you can actually use. “Some kids go home with valentines made for their entire class”, Flexer said. “It’s a way to make the day about appreciating people in general, and celebrating all kinds of love.”
This year’s Valentine’s Day Make-In will be held on Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, January 29, from 10:30am to 5:30pm both days, $10 a person or $20 for a whole family. Light refreshments will be served. More information about the Make-In and about her upcoming spring classes and summer art camp is on Mindy’s website. Here’s to a life full of art, and all the possibilities that come with it!
NW Philly Parents is a partnership between NewsWorks.org and GermantownAvenueParents.com, a community blog covering events and issues of interest to parents and children in Northwest Philadelphia.