Art Chowder September | October 2021 Issue No. 35 Issue 35 | Page 55

which is a stronger , more trusting community . Spark Central has been a really important place for Nanette , who says they want more people here doing more cool things . “ I printed my first zines ( comics ) here . Spark has more or less started my art career . I wouldn ’ t be teaching Drop in & Draw ; I wouldn ’ t have the ability to call myself an arts educator .”
The third barrier to creativity , and perhaps the most obnoxious one — and therefore the one that seems to be most deeply addressed in the intentions of the staff and volunteers of Spark Central — is confidence . Maybe you have the money , supplies , resources , and time to carry off the idea that ’ s been circling wildly around in your brain like a happy dog . But for every happy dog there ’ s at least two mean old dogcatchers with muzzles and hobbles hanging from their belts . “ I have an idea !” your sweet inner child squeals . “ However ,” state your trauma-informed memories , “ It is crap .”
Every volunteer who brings their time and expertise to Spark has a story of overcome adversity , which is maybe what makes them such apt mentors . “ Spark volunteers work together with folks to build confidence , build new skills , work with new mediums , and walk away with something tangible ,” says Faust . Tangibility may include a piece of visual artwork , or it could be a performance that they ’ ve been able to share with a supportive audience of peers and family and community members . A favorite annual program has been “ Girls Rock Lab ,” which welcomes female and alternative-gender
third through eighth graders to come form rock bands for a week ( or longer if the participants are so inspired ), write songs , and work with mentors on the exciting , culture-countering philosophies of being loud . At the end of the week , there was always a rock concert in the evening to which the entire community was invited . “ They can see women in the community who are making art , supporting each other , and holding each other up ,” said Liz Rognes , leader of the program , in a 2019 interview . “ We have such amazing volunteers ... and the girls get to see the way that we interact with each other and the way that we are collaborating .”
Of course , as with nearly all things on which we love and depend , COVID took its toll on the organization . In a roughly 1500-square-foot room which in normal times the fire department says would support 100 people , they hit the one-third capacity
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