By Lisa Morgan
Give me some facts and words and I can turn it into a story. Give me some music and I can sing you a song. But give me lump of clay and you know what you’ll get? A distorted, disproportioned lump of clay that probably looked better BEFORE I laid hands on it. Not in the case of sisters Caitlyn and Lauren Adams or Madeline and Caroline Whales! These kids are rocking their talents at Old Town Artisan Studio. When they get their hands on the grey blob of clay, a beautiful replica of a koi fish appears that could proudly be displayed in any home or garden. Their pieces were a far cry from the ash tray I remember bringing home to my parents. With deep cuts to public school art programs, these budding little artists might never have had the opportunity to develop their skills without this wonderful non-profit organization.
Giving them guidance along the way is professional art instructor and local school teacher, Rae-Lynne Godfrey, and La Quinta High School senior and volunteer, Angie Cabrera. Angie has been using her gifts to teach the kids as well as to lead as president of the Youth Artisan Board. When asked what her favorite part of volunteering is you can hear it in her voice and see it on her face as she lights up and quickly answers, “I love working with the kids. To be able to combine art and working with kids has been so much fun.” Angie is currently leading the Youth Artisan Board donation drive to raise money for a project to be displayed at the Living Desert in hopes of generating donations and awareness in support of the valuable programs the studio offers.
The studio’s main purpose is to provide the experience of the healing magic of clay to children and adults, including those with developmental disabilities and those underserved youth and seniors in the community. “Clay is quiet, creative and in some ways, consoling. It allows us to express our emotions and visions and moves in magical ways that is almost a form of healing therapy,” says Victory Gund, the founder and visionary of this meaningful organization. “Not all of us can be, or choose to be, active on a ball field,” she adds, “But we can exercise our creativity with our hands. As the clay moves to our touch, we can suddenly see a figure of a design emerge that is our very own.” Understanding that not everyone can afford a wheel or a kiln, the idea of Old Town Artisan Studio is to provide opportunity to all at any skill level, standing or in the seat of a wheelchair. Their free classes are taught by professional art instructors who encourage students to enrich their lives through sculpting, the potter’s wheel, hand building, Raku pottery, bisque ware, ceramic painting and glass art. Old Town Artisan Studio recently received funding to offer classes to students of the Braille Institute and Salvation Army and are currently partnering with United Cerebral Palsy.
Classes are open to artists of all ages and skill levels at extremely reasonable rates. They also throw Birthday parties that are sure to be a hit as every guest is able to pick a theme based item to paint and keep. Ladies, gather your best girlfriends and attend a Girls Glass Lunch or Girls Glass Night Out where you can enjoy each other’s company over wine and hors d’oeuvres while making your own glass pendant or earrings as you learn the beautiful art of glass fusion.
This little studio is building the hopes, dreams and confidence of our local children and adults alike and is in real need of volunteers. The only real qualification to volunteer is a heart for art. Call them for more information on class schedules, fees, programs and how you can be part of keeping this dream builder thriving for years to come. Old Town Artisan Studio is located 2 blocks west of Old Town at 51-105 Avenida Villa Suite #101 in La Quinta. Visit their website at oldtownartisanstudio.org, or give them a call at (760) 777-1444. Donated time or supplies are always greatly appreciated as is any monetary donation.