Crafting Connections: Reflections on Summer

by | Aug 29, 2023 | Blog

Summer 2023 at AIR was full of all kinds of different artistic adventures, newly crafted connections, and so much fun! Read on to learn all about the different mediums we were able to try out together.

ArtVentures Forever!

At ArtVentures Forever! we explored a plethora of visual arts! Liliana Mangan, the Program Coordinator at AIR, led us in a jewelry making and bead frankensteining workshop. We created earrings, necklaces, and sculptures out of the fantastic array of beads and findings.

Karen Rosaniaof Oliveteal Arts stopped by to lead us in a mosaic frame workshop. We added tiles and other small trinkets to frames to create one-of-a-kind pieces of art. She came back later in the week to help us through grouting the frames. The grout gave the frames a professional finishing touch!

Ree Katrak, a local abstract artist, came by to lead an expressive painting workshop. Using random shapes and colors, we focused on the process of painting rather than the outcome. 

Cara Cabral, AIR’s Program Director, led a book mobile workshop where we creatively transformed old books into works of art. We folded the pages, crafted collages, and added 3D objects using fishing wire, resulting in captivating hanging displays. Cara also led a workshop entitled “Birds and Bugs.” In this workshop we constructed our favorite creatures out of cardboard, paint, and other materials. 

During the week we also created a diorama of The Fredding. This was a wedding between Liliana’s Squishmallow Freddie, and Chad, a cardboard pigeon created by one of the participants. It will be on display in September at Bedrock Gardens!

World of Wonder

At World of Wonder we were graced by performing and teaching artist, Gemma Soldati! We started the week by brainstorming ideas for original characters. We built costumes and props to bring these characters to life for a performance at the end of the week! And of course, we played a ton of improv and theater games! 

Some characters the teen artists created include:

  • Mindy the baker who bakes hair into her cookies
  • Astrid the music loving heroine who saves the world from an asteroid
  • Tragedy the playwright with a flair for the dramatic
  • King Sergeant Saxon the fish that rules the sea

It was so special to do a performance-based program at The Players’ Ring in Portsmouth. Definitely go see a show there if you haven’t already!

Beat Street

On the first day of Beat Street we met local musician Palana! During her workshops, she showed us how to use a plethora of instruments including but not limited to guitar, bass, keyboard, cahone, vibra slap, and claves. As each of us found the instrument that suits us best, we divided into groups or went off individually depending on our goals. We started working on original songs and cover songs that we ended up performing at the end of the week for our friends and families. Some of the songs that were covered were:

  • Light Shower by Melanie Martinez
  • Hostage by Billie Eilish
  • Tear in My Heart by twenty one pilots
  • Clint Eastwood by Gorillaz

On Tuesday and Wednesday we were visited by AIR’s Marketing Maven, caitlin little. They taught us songwriting skills and offered one-on-one consults to help us take our songs to the next level. On Tuesday we also visited Portsmouth’s Community Radio Station WSCA! A couple of their radio DJs showed us how to setup and host a radio show and worked with us to make some audio teasers/liners/bumpers for broadcast on air.

In addition to those two wonderful musicians, we were lucky enough to have DJ extraordinaire Mx. Blaire teach us about DJing! She gave us a demo on a free app called Djay in which you can mix songs right from your phone. She also let us try out her professional DJ setup where we chose our favorite songs and modified them using different tones and sound effects.

FABric and Fibers

Our second to last week of summer was centered around fiber arts! Our first workshop was mindful stitching, taught by AIR’s Program Manager, Haley Searcy. After a short meditation, we used a plethora of supplies and then sewed whatever felt right in the moment, focusing on the process rather than the product. Later that day we were visited by Alicia of Fringe Moon Macrame who taught us all about circular weaving. For this craft, you wrap yarn around a circular loom until you end up with a finished piece.

The next day we learned more fiber mediums from AIR’s Teen Artist Transporter, Kathi Hardy and Program Coordinator, Liliana Mangan. Kathi taught the basics of crocheting and Liliana taught us how to hand sew 3D critters.

We were also graced with the presence of sewist and fashion designer, Julie Lawson. Julie led us through the process of making bucket hats! To make bucket hats we:

  1. Measured our heads
  2. Used a pattern to cut out pieces
  3. Ironed on interfacing
  4. Pinned the pieces
  5. Sewed them all together
  6. Et voila! Bucket Hats!

We also learned how to make cyanotypes from visual artist, Cassie Brazeau and Liliana! We gathered natural materials, laid our photosensitive fabric in the sun, and let the objects sink into the fabric. This process creates one of a kind prints! We were able to share all of the work with a gallery opening where friends and family were invited.

AIR x Storycamp

For the second year in a row we teamed up with Storycamp Dangercamp for an outdoor extravaganza! We created the dreamiest of stories called the School of Dreams that lead us on our weeklong journey in nature. The School of Dreams was divided into different houses and lands, each with its own special focus. We will invite you on this journey now…

Upon arrival at the School of Dreams, you would meet the Fortune Teller. They reveal your fortune using hand-drawn oracle cards shimmering with watercolors.

Next you would make your way past the Circle of Friendship where a campfire is burning. The whispering flames encourage you to get to know those on the journey with you. (Sidenote: We made s’mores here. They were so tasty!)

We went to the Land of Music, a peaceful section of the forest. Visitors could hear the melodious marimba and percussive rain stick from across the pond. As they passed through, they had the opportunity to create their own tunes as well. 

The House of Daydreams followed and continued the trend of peace. Dream catchers made of natural materials including sticks, feathers, and rocks filled the land. This is where the Dream Sidekicks lived, created from paper mache and the inner depths of our own dreams. They kept us safe as we descended through the School of Dreams. 

The forest got darker as we entered the Cave of Nightmares. The cave was shrouded in black fabric and guarded by the paper mache Cerberus we created last year. Dream Puffs made pipe cleaners and pom pom filled the cave. But beware! Only those who have trained for many years may touch Dream Puffs. Otherwise, if you touch one, their Dream Venom will cause you to dream forever. 

The journey ends at the House of Flying. Here you could watch acrobats soar through the air on aerial silks and spin through the trees on the lyra. Like a bird or a bug, they too became creatures dancing in the sky. 

We were planning on hosting an installation where families and friends could journey through the School of Dreams in real life. However, Mother Nature had unfortunately planned a thunderstorm for the very same time. We spent our final afternoon watching movies, drawing, and enjoying each other’s company safely indoors until it was time to get on the van and head home. 

It was such a wonderful, fun, and inspiring summer that we will remember forever! Stay tuned for announcements about our fall programming.