From Allison Acosta. Email her at allison[AT]borderstan.com.
In the basement of the New Community Church at 6th and S Streets NW, ArtSpace DC has offered local residents from all walks of life the opportunity to develop their artistic talents for more than a decade.
ArtSpace’s mission is to act as a “conduit for personal and community expression, empowering participants to find their artistic voice, celebrate the beauty of the world that surrounds us and expose what needs to change with powerful visual statements.”
The church has served the Shaw community for nearly 30 years. In 1984, they purchased what was then an abandoned and dilapidated property on a block known for drug deals from the DC Government. With help from church members, neighbors, and Manna, a non-profit that renovates and builds affordable housing founded by the church’s leader, the Reverend Jim Dickerson, the property was restored and reopened to the community.
In 1999 Rachel Dickerson Brunswick, Dickerson’s daughter, returned to Washington, DC after studying the visual arts in college. Shaw community members, seeing how much their children enjoyed the arts in the church’s after school program, decided they wanted a space of their own to explore their creative sides. Artspace was opened, and volunteer artists have offered affordable classes to the community ever since.
“It really is a community-based setting, and I think that’s what appeals to a lot of people,” says Brunswick. “It’s a mix of people that we’ve always had. And the people that come around are really interesting. Everybody’s got a story.”
Maybelle Taylor Bennett has offered a popular fiber arts class from the very beginning, offering instruction in weaving on any of several looms as well as knitting and crochet. Artspace is also host to a ceramics class and offers students access to three electric potter’s wheels and a kick wheel, as well as a kiln. Artspace offers Open Studio nights on Mondays.
Spring classes are now forming. Artspace has recently added a black and white darkroom and a darkroom class begins March 21. The newest addition to the class schedule is a Toddler Open Studio Class for young children and their caregivers being offered Mondays at 10am starting April 1.
Volunteers and donations of art supplies are always welcome at ArtSpace. The space has hosted cooking classes and workshops, bookmaking classes, yoga classes, acoustic musical performances, art exhibitions, and movie screenings. You can sign up for a class of for the email list at dc.artspace[AT]gmail.com.