Between the responsibilities of being a mother and home-schooler, Rockingham County resident Kyra Haddad said she does not often have time to invest in creative endeavors. Thanks to the loose structure of community art nonprofit The Making Space, Haddad is able to combine her familial responsibilities with her artistic cravings.
“At this stage of my life, with four young children, creating for fun has been on the back burner, but I’d like to make it more of a priority because of how therapeutic it feels,” Haddad said. “Two of my children came along. … It was a lot of fun. My daughters also loved it.”
For three years, The Making Space has offered a home for artists of every degree and caliber to create, collaborate and educate together as a community. Every second Thursday of the month from 5 to 8 p.m., creative minds gather at the Lucy F. Simms Continuing Education Center to either participate in an artist-led workshop or take advantage of the free range creative space.
Maria Paz Esguerra, who presides over The Making Space, pointed to financial and educational barriers as obstacles that restrict individuals from exploring the arts. By providing free supplies and inviting experienced makers to lead lessons, she said, everyone can discover their inner artist.
“A part of what The Making Space tries to do is connect local artists and community members who might be intimidated or not have access to the supplies and materials,” Esguerra said. “Collectively, our organization represents a lot of different members of our community, and we want to continue growing in that spirit.”
Today marks the first open studio workshop of the year, and individuals are spending three hours dabbling in mosaic work, led by three OASIS Fine Art and Craft board members.
Barbara Camph began piecing together shards of colorful glass as a hobby in the early 1980s, but she has since crafted the quilting of stained art into a career. Sally Ridgway, who specializes in glass fusing, and Sarah Lock, who does metalsmithing and lapidary work, previously worked together to create the “Love” mosaic on Water Street and are co-instructing January’s class.
While most monthly workshops are open to the public, today’s event has a capacity limit due to the prior preparation required for mosaicking, but the space remains open for anyone who wants to come and work on their individual projects. For the 25 registered participants, Camph is providing 9-by-12-inch boards as the canvas for their creation.
Ridgway and Camph have taught mosaic classes at OASIS for children, and Camph said she is excited for her debut class with The Making Space to see how others embrace their creativity through the medium.
“I want to see people’s reactions to it, and I love to see the different ideas people come up with. … It’s cool to see how people use the same ingredients but come out with very different end products,” Camph said.
The Making Space has another branch in Staunton, but Esguerra said Harrisonburg has become a center for the organization as it works alongside other community groups such as Brothers Craft Brewing, which recently hosted a fundraiser for the nonprofit, and the Arts Council of the Valley, whose grants fund supplies for The Making Space.
“The organization in many ways has kind of taken root in Harrisonburg, and we’re hoping to expand the reach of our workshop so people in the community know we exist and what we’re offering … so we can all foster our creativity and give access to that opportunity,” Esguerra said.
Mary Hairston is instructing February’s class on painting with watercolors on book pages; Gil Lameiras is leading March’s workshop on making a giving rock garden; April’s class on fabric banners will be taught by Marcia Weaver; and Deb Booth is guiding a paper quilling class in May.
Classes are held on the second floor in the music room of the Lucy F. Simms Continuing Education Center, 620 Simms Ave., and workshops that require prior registration must be RSVP’d on Facebook.