An outlet for creativity

An outlet for creativity

 MAC in Staunton offers classes, open sessions for kids and adults 

By Eric Becker

STAUNTON (June 28, 2018) – The lack of art in the lower levels of the Staunton school district led to Brandace Cloud’s inspiration of an art studio and workshop.

In March of 2017, the Macoupin Art Collective (MAC) opened at 214 E. Main St. in downtown Staunton.

People of all ages are drawn into the shop to make their own original masterpieces in a number of different artistic creations.

The west wall of the workshop is lined with dozens of different supplies that students or adults can use to come up with a creative original.

When one walks into the MAC, the gallery awaits them. Many finished works of art are showcased.

A door leads to the workshop area. Several tables, materials, artistic machines and  projects in progress are seen about the room.

For Cloud, the MAC’s Executive Director, and her husband Paul, the office manager, it was a chance to help give kids a chance at expressing their artistic talents, something she says is very important.

Having just given birth herself in January to her son Asa, she now will be able to watch him grow up in the artistic world with a wide variety of opportunities.

“We have a gallery – we rotate artists out so we get to display art,” Cloud said. “We do lots of kids’ classes so the kids are coming through the gallery before they get to this space and they get to see the professional artists.”

MAC offered 1,283 free events last year, mostly to kids. They offered free classes to kids from January through the end of school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Cloud also offers free classes each week at the town’s Farmer’s Market.

Kids classes are offered for a fee for four days a week.

They have numerous instructors who come and teach the children as well as promote the MAC through various activities.

One of those is Jim Linksvayer, a potter. “We’ve got lots of artists in the area and we find more and more each time,” Cloud said.

But with art not taught in the Staunton schools at the lower level, Cloud said she was inspired to try and fill that gap.

“My big focus is kids,” Cloud said. “We have no art in the grade school here in Staunton and so we wanted to fill that gap. If we can’t do it for free, we try to do it just for instruction time. We try to use materials that are donated, so we don’t have to charge them for material.”

Upcoming kids classes include Jewelry making for ages three to seven from  and All the Hammering June 26-29.

July 10-13 will include Comic Capers, Game On! and Metal Jewelry Working (ages 10 and up) classes.

July 17-20 will include Sew!, Fancy Textiles Explosion classes. July 24-27 will include Sculpture and Botanical Artworks classes; and July 31 through August 3 include Wheel Throwing (ages eight and up) and Stained Glass Mosaics (ages 11 and up).

Adult classes are also offered with several classes in the summer months at the MAC. Saturday, June 30 is a Fairy Gardens class from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Jewelry making, Games in the Classroom, textiles and teaching creative writing are being offered in July.

A glass fusing workshop for adults will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. June 30 and an Eco Dying party July 20 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Wheel throwing classes are offered on Thursdays through July 19 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Ceramic Instruments with Mulberry Mud are offered Thursdays through August 2 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

But the MAC also offers open studio time for kids to come in and use the wall of materials to create their own masterpiece. Cost is $5 per hour for the open studio time.

“Several kids have come in this summer, which is exciting, because we’ve been trying to push that this whole year,” Cloud said. “And most of the kids around here, I feel like, because they have no art education, they just don’t know what to do.”

But given the chance and the materials, the kids created quite a nice display of art creations without being prepped by any of the instructors or by Cloud.

The MAC will encompass on anything artsy related.

“We try to touch on anything – anything anybody wants to do we’ll do it,” Cloud said. “We’ll find the teacher for it, we’ll find that person who has that experience. We say it’s not my space – it’s your space. It’s your kids’ space. It’s that little girl who stopped in yesterday because it was hot outside and she stopped in just to look around the gallery. It’s amazing to me – that little girl felt comfortable enough to come in this gallery and look around at this art. It’s everybody’s space.”

Giving everybody a chance to find their artistic niche is what the MAC is all about.

“We want it to be the community’s space – we specifically chose the Macoupin Art Collective – we want to bring everybody in to work, and play and learn and I wanted to fill that lack of art in the schools,” Cloud said.

She has gone to Staunton Elementary School and offered a Fine Arts Day for around 500 students in the Staunton Elementary kindergarten through fifth grade.

“Everybody got to play with clay,” Cloud said. “We brought all of those 500 projects back, fired them in our kiln and took them all back to them.”

Around 12 of the 500 students took advantage of the free classes offered by the MAC, so getting the word out to the community is an important part of making sure kids are given a chance to showcase artistic abilities.

For more information on the services offered, contact (618) 635-2015, stop by the office at 214 E. Main St. in Staunton or visit the website at www.macart.org.

Brandace Cloud, husband Paul and newborn Asa stand in front of a large amount of materials that can be used for making various art projects at the Macoupin Art Collective in Staunton. Free classes and open studio time for a $5 fee are available for kids and adults of all ages. Photo/Eric Becker