SOUTHBRIDGE – It seems like summer has just begun, but members of The Ruth Wells Center for the Arts in Southbridge have already launched two summer art workshops for kids. The workshops are offered free of charge to kids from any of the 19 towns in Massachusetts or six towns in Connecticut served by the arts organization, and both classes filled up quickly.
The organization’s familiar summer youth art classes began July 8 and will continue weekday mornings through July 19. This popular annual summer workshop provides fun exploratory art instruction by local working artists who bring years of experience to the studio. Classes are held in the organization’s spacious gallery and event space at 111 Main Street, Southbridge. At the conclusion of the workshop, families and community members will be invited to an opening event and exhibit of the students’ work.
This year, another summer youth art class with a unique focus was added to the Ruth Wells Center lineup; the center’s Summer Youth Fiber Art Camp was held July 1-3. This new class, taught by talented seamstress and fiber artist Audrey Clark, brought a new type of hands-on art experience to local kids during summer break.
Fiber art is any creation involving yarn, fabric, or other fibers. Students worked on a variety of different projects using yarn and fabric. Students had an opportunity to experiment with weaving, dying, and crafting with many kinds of fibers.
Clark says that fiber art is “an ancient art that began with manipulation of natural fibers such as wool, silk, and cotton. Nowadays artists have thousands of options with synthetic and natural fibers.”
“I really wanted to organize these classes because we need to involve young people in fiber art. Old world crafts are at risk in our 24-7 tech saturated world and I feel there is no better way to preserve these crafts than getting kids excited about them,” Clark remarks.
Clark herself is a young artist and seamstress who can already count considerable experience and accomplishments at just 17 years of age. She recently won a design contest created by Mood Fabrics with the creation of a beautiful red formal gown. She also designed and crafted a coat that was featured in the 2019 members’ show of The Ruth Wells Center for the Arts.
Clark has a talent and a passion for hands-on creative work and sees sewing, knitting, embroidery, weaving, and dye arts as important creative outlets. She enjoyed teaching the new class this summer and hopes to continue to share the many facets of fiber art with students in the future as well.
“I’ve always loved creating and making crafts,” she remarks. “I started sewing around four years ago and it has really stuck with me. I think fiber arts is the focus of most of what I’ve made because I love the idea of transforming string or flat fabric into something wearable or useful.”
For more information about upcoming events and classes at The Ruth Wells Center for the arts, follow the center on Facebook (facebook.com/TheRuthWellsCenterfortheArts/), or check the organization’s website (https://www.ruthwellscenter.com). Classes, exhibits, events, and sales are posted throughout the year, with something for everyone The organization’s gallery space in the historic Dresser House is also available to rent for special events.