Flashback Friday with Savannah, have you met…

You received your BFA in Fibers at SCAD. What made you go into that program?
I think I went into Fibers because I really love making things…all kinds of things and you can make a pretty diverse set of things under the fiber umbrella. I also enjoyed the people in that department…students and the incredible faculty.

Tell us about Loop It Up Savannah?
Loop It Up Savannah began in the fall of 2008 as a small children’s knitting and crochet class, since then it has grown to offer diverse artistic programs for children, teens and adults through weekly Early Learning Center classes, after school classes, in-school residency projects and special programs at Senior and Community Centers. West Broad Street YMCA Early Learning Center Classes are offered weekly to toddlers, two, three and four year olds enrolled in the West Broad Street YMCA’s Early Learning Center. Children are engaged in a variety of age appropriate creative project designed to teach them important fine motor and coordination skills, while exposing them to a world of art, design and creativity. West Broad Street YMCA After School Art Classes are offered weekly to elementary, middle and high school students enrolled in YMCA after school programs. Participants have a chance to work on long term projects and participate in community wide art events, exhibitions and programs.

How did you become such an integral part of Loop It Up?
Sometime during the summer of 2008, the Craft Yarn Council of America visited Savannah. My friend/West Broad Street YMCA board member Howard Morrison happened to meet with them while they were here and somehow they all came up with the idea that someone should start a knitting and crochet class for children at the West Broad YMCA. Howard got in touch with SCAD Fibers Chair, Cayewah Easley who grabbed me and a few other girls to laugh the program…. We had a lot of help and donated materials from the companies in the Craft Yarn Council – Red Heart Yarn, Lion’s Brand-My first day teaching was on Election Day 2008 ! The YMCA is in the Kayton/Frazier voting site so lots of kids came into try knitting while they moms were voting! It was a very exciting time!

The knitting classes kind of worked, but we were missing the feeling of a program that resonated with the community. I decided to redesign a little and start doing more general art projects which helped the kids build fine motor skills and become fluent with a variety of materials and kinds of art. Over the past few years, the West Broad Street YMCA has been re-activated as a community center for West Savannah Neighborhoods like Kayton and Frazier Homes, Cuyler/Brownsville and Carver Heights. Through that process, Loop It Up has grown into a program that serves over 1200 children annually.

I really feel lucky to have been in the right place in the right time and to have had the baby idea of this program fall RIGHT in my lap. Loop It Up and working in the YMCA neighborhood is more fulfilling and exciting that I ever knew possible! My students are so much sunshine to the square inch! I ahve the greatest, biggest love for them and that love gets me up every day and makes me want to fight for them and have the best possible everything that there is to have in this world. 

How has art shaped your views on life?
I sometimes think of a quote from Bertolt Brecht: “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.”

I think it’s really true. We – any of us, adults and my littlest students, might make something based on the world that we see. But, once a piece of art gets made, it forever shapes our perception of the real world. I think it’s true that if we are surrounded by beauty be come what we se—if we are surrounded by kindness we become kinder people. I try to display as much of my students work all around in places that lots of people can see because it reminds us of such a rich, vibrant world than we might carry in the forefront of our brains on any given day.

How has the program affected the youth that have participated thus far?
My kids really think of themselves as people who do art… They have taken art making on as part of their identity. If I say okay time to make a quilt, people just start laying out fabric…they know what to do and they know it! There is a lot of scary stuff out there in the world, we might not ever make it go away but we can work on making other, better and happier elements as believable and legitimate as the dark stuff.

When you were a little girl what was it that you wanted to be when you grew up?
I think I wanted to be a teacher. And also an artist. So that worked out! I also wanted to be a singer… I get to sing the wheels on the bus a whole lot these days!

What is a guilty pleasure of yours?
OYSTER MUSHROOMS—they are so good sautéed in olive oil with salt and pepper that I can’t stop eating them. Ever! Also, pepperoni pizza—never gets old.

After a long day at work, how do you wind down?
I walk my dog (Riva!). I take a lot of photos of my students during the day, so I upload those. The uploading and reviewing process seems to be a good way to finish thinking about everything that happened that day.

What do you like and dislike about living in Savannah?
I love Savannah and I have such hope for our evolution and growth. I really like that many people here are willing to see something new and allow it to change them. I have seen people set in their ways here, and then they see something fresh and they aren’t too proud to let it change their stance or redefine the lens they see the world thru.

I don’t like the poverty, the hunger and the lack of good healthcare that affects such a great part of our community. Thank goodness there are a lot of smart, good hearted people working on these problems. Through my work I hope to illuminate the places where we need to make some changes, so that more people feel empowered to step up and live their lives for that change.

Facebook: Loop It Up Savannah of the West Broad Street YMCA
Blog: Loop It Up

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