Art project a draw: Easthampton arts nonprofit spurs young participants’ creativity on behalf of scholarship fund

  • Resilient Community Arts co-founder Maddie McDougall helps a young participant make a mosaic during a workshop at the Doodle-A-Thon fundraiser, hosted by the Resilient Community Arts and the Color Collaborative, Saturday, on the Cottage Street boardwalk in Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

  • Author Rachel Jennings and her child Cluny Jennings-Salop selects a few pastels to draw on the doodle sheets during the Doodle-a-thon Fundraiser Saturday at the Cottage Street Boardwalk in Easthampton, MA. Sabato Visconti—Copyright.2022

  • Five-year-old Cluny Jennings-Salop draws a special bunny on a table-long doodle sheet during Saturday’s Doodle-A-Thon in Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

Staff Writer
Published: 3/27/2022 8:16:09 PM
Modified: 3/27/2022 8:15:12 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Artistry was in bloom on the boardwalk of Cottage Street as Resilient Community Arts held its first-ever “Doodle-A-Thon.”

Despite a late morning drizzle on Saturday, the creativity of the handfuls of youth alongside their families was not dampened.

Five-year-old Olivia Downey and her brother, Camden Downey, 2, stretched out across from one another along the sidewalk in front of Nashawannuck Pond, piecing together individual mosaic designs on a tile. Olivia, who loves to draw and color at home, selected a star to place at the center of her work and Camden a number of shades of blue to decorate his piece.

“It was fantastic to see so many people,” said Maddie McDougall, who is the co-founder and director of Resilient Community Arts, on Saturday. “Our workshops have all been filled and our maker’s market was loaded with people. It’s been great.”

Resilient Community Arts, in the Eastworks building, functions as a nonprofit through a fiscal sponsorship with the Pioneer Valley Project of Springfield. The organization provides programming in several media, including painting, drawing, printmaking, macramé and fiber arts. The nonprofit also offers custom group programming for all ages and backgrounds.

The Doodle-A-Thon event was held in part to celebrate Youth Art Month as well as to bring awareness to the fact that visual art education is a key factor in the total education curriculum that develops citizens of a global society, and as a fundraiser benefiting Resilient Community Art’s Art is for Everybody Scholarship Fund.

The scholarship fund is designated for youth from low-income homes to attend studio programs at Resilient Community Arts and The Color Collaborative for free. The goal of the event was to raise $2,000.

Through a partnership with Sharon Leshner of the Color Collaborative Studios, also in the Eastworks building, Resilient Community Arts offers after-school programs for kindergarten through 12th grade.

In addition to the mosaics workshop, patrons had the opportunity to doodle on more than 30 feet of space, make tie-dyed T-shirts and listen to live music.

Four-year-old Judah Green and his sister, Sarrah Green, 1½, giggled and cheered as they swirled colors at one of the two doodling stations. The Green children are no strangers to art as both of their parents, Priya and Andrae Green, are accomplished artists.

Priya Green, who has a studio in her home in Springfield, is also known for a mural she created on the Easthampton Feed building along the Manhan Rail Trail on Mechanic Street.

This spring, Andrae Green will work alongside artist Kim Carlino in leading a participatory art project in collaboration with students from JFK Middle and Northampton High schools. Through student workshops and a diverse team of artists, this project will use color, human form and geometry to explore unity, connection and identity. All of those efforts will culminate in two murals at both schools.

Student perspective

The Saturday event also featured a maker’s market showcasing the work of area artists and students from the nonprofit. Artist Neysa Tapanes, whose work was up for sale at the market, discovered Resilient Community Arts after attending the nonprofit’s Womxn’s Support Group.

Tapenes, who also volunteers with the nonprofit, said it was great to see students from the organization’s after-school program and their work on display.

“I thought I had stopped doing visual arts after high school, but I found it again after attending one of the programs,” she said. “(Resilient Community Arts) is really great and provides great opportunities for those who can’t afford it — and they keep encouraging (students) to come back.”

For those who are interested in donating, but could not attend the event, donations may also be made via GoFundMe at https://bit.ly/3iKFlP7.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.

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