When talking about art, it’s more than pen to paper and paint to canvas: It’s an expression, through time, from early cliff drawings through the famous artists of their times, the realism of Michelangelo, the abstract work of Picasso or Pollack, it’s free-thought – egging the viewer to interact, it’s art.
Art is a form of communication. From the early record keepers of the cliff drawings, it was a non-verbal way of communicating. Pottery even communicated history, all-be-it functional art.
Kasey Correia, director at the Dancing Spirit Gallery is an artist herself, a potter. She began an artist co-op in Anchorage, Alaska. Her pottery is expressive in a positive way
“Through challenges of life, pottery was something for me to fall back onto, positively,” Correia said.
Pottery was also a way to connect with Mother Earth, but also a way to connect with kids, “by planting the seeds of hope” as Correia stated, “connecting in a healthy way, allowing the kids to express themselves.”
Art can also be a healing tool. Art crosses all cultures and languages. It can heal the traumatic events in our lives, Correia said.
Dancing Spirit has a therapeutic program, funded through a Department of Justice grant with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, which was approved by tribal council. Jodie Rosier, grant writer for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and Gabe Tate, fine arts teacher for the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy were instrumental in getting the grant approved.
The grant gives kids an opportunity to create art, to be creative with the brain, to allow them to communicate their feelings. The program also helps families reconnect through art, she said.
“It builds self esteem, social skills,” said Correia. “It’s about the process of creating art, not necessarily the outcome.”
The program is offered to kids K-12 in the Ignacio School District but also the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy, the Southern Ute Head Start and the Boys and Girls Club of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.
Dancing Spirit began March 2010 with 4 artists on 630 Main Street in Ignacio.
By 2011, the gallery had moved to 640 Main and in April of 2012 there were 13 artists and in June the Pine River Community Learning Center contacted Dancing Spirit to teach art in its education component.
In March of 2013, Dancing Spirit had filed for a 501-3-C non-profit application which is still pending.
What is a community art center?
It’s where artists are available to teach, a place to sell their art, artwork of local, community artists. It’s open studio space also an open ceramics studio. Correia wishes it to be like a college.
The DOJ Grant aligned at the right time, with the right people, to provide a free service, to bring components to different schools, beyond the JT-11 school district.
The grant allows the “Building Bridges through Art” program, offered by the Dancing Spirit Gallery, to be free to all kids. The 10-week program is free to all kids of the immediate local area, through the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.
“It’s always hard to run a co-op, everyone has a say, and relationships have to be developed with different entities. We have to have mentors, mentors of a variety of cultures. I’m the one holding it together, the heart beat at the center,” Correia said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy and their guides. It benefits the school and the after-school programs.”
The gallery serves southeast La Plata County, including Bondad, Arboles and even the Durango and Vallecito area.
“There is much more growth, it’s a co-creation with the community, of ideas upon ideas that form something,” Correia stated.
The gallery is liken to the Ignacio Community Library, Correia said.
“Our books are our artists. We are the seeds of hope, for generations to come. Artists connect people, in a larger picture. Look at Mother Earth, we are all part of the world,” she said.
Summer art program
Dancing Spirit Community Arts Center will begin its ‘Building Bridges Through Art’ program. The classes will be Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning June 17 and will continue through August 21. Classes are free for all K-12 students in the JT11 school district, including SUIMA students. Class fees are $15 per class for all other participants. Class sizes are limited to 10 students, and classes will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
A hip-hop class will also be offered at Dancing Spirit Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, classes for boys and girls will be from 1 to 1:45 p.m., 8-10 years of age, 1:55 to 2:35 p.m. for 11 years and older and 2:45 to 3:30 p.m. for ages 5-7. There will be only 12 spots available for each time slot.
Session two “hip hoppin’ with Miss Elli, will begin Wednesday, June 25 through July 14. Session three “hip hoppin’ with miss Elli will begin July 23 through August 8. Cost is $32 per session, $5 discount per session for additional siblings. Dancers should come to class wearing comfortable clothes (no jeans) and wearing sneakers. Bring a water bottle for quick breaks. Call to pre-register at 970-335-8206.