Posts Tagged ‘Taryn Oesch’

Micro-Entrepreneurship: Supporting the Dreams of Triangle Artists With Disabilities

By Taryn OeschP1040558-e1513269300865-700x441

The Power of the Dream is a local nonprofit with a mission to create jobs and advocate for adults with autism and developmental/intellectual disorders (autism/IDD) in the Triangle. One of the ways it accomplishes this mission is by helping artists become micro-entrepreneurs, or small business owners, by creating a business and selling their work.

For example, Walter Magazine’s latest issue profiled King Nobuoyshi Godwin, an artist with autism whose paintings use bright colors and numbers to express his unique perspective and emotions. Godwin’s art is currently on display at Artspace and can also be found at The Power of the Dream’s thrift store, HANDmeUPS, as well as Lucky Tree, Moondog Fine Arts, and Read With Me.

P1040564-225x300The Power of the Dream offers micro-enterprise workshops for artists and other entrepreneurs with autism/IDD. The students bring their artistic ability; The Power of the Dream brings the business knowledge. Together with the artists’ support teams, they build business plans to help the artists start selling their work. The current class includes a painter, a soap maker who already has his own family business, and a jeweler who also creates handmade cushions and pillows.

The class takes the students through the components of a business plan, one piece at a time, and they finish with a complete plan, ready to start selling their art. Building business acumen also helps the students build confidence in themselves. In fact, Tirthna Badhiwala, the employment and outreach coordinator at The Power of the Dream, says, “My favorite thing is seeing our micro-entrepreneurs gain confidence in who they are, often after years of being discouraged from pursuing their dreams. Hearing new micro-entrepreneurs talk about their first sales and seeing how self-empowering that is for them never gets old.”

“A difference in communication or style does not automatically negate skills or abilities,” says Nichole Brownlee, executive director of The Power of the Dream. “Whether it is their primary source of income or a supplement to their income, our micro-entrepreneurs also receive the benefits of empowerment and self-determination that can be lacking with this population.”

“Micro-enterprise is one of the most empowering options in the face of un(der)employment,” says Badhiwala, “not only because it can be an income supplement for artists with autism/IDD, but because it’s an income supplement that comes from creating what they genuinely love.” Any artist can agree that the sense of empowerment, independence and creative freedom that comes from supporting yourself by doing something you love is worth all the hard work it takes to get there. The Power of the Dream helps micro-entrepreneurs with that hard work.

Want to know more? Visit The Power of a Dream website or contact them by email.  Check out some of the art on sale at HANDmeUPS thrift store, or come to the next PowerUP pop-up market on May 19 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Hero’s Pub in Raleigh.

Taryn Oesch is an award-winning editor and writer with a passion for inclusion and the arts. In her spare time, she volunteers with Miracle League of the Triangle and The Power of the Dream, plays the flute at her church, and battles for apartment space with an ever-growing collection of books. 

Tags: , , , ,

Triangle Hidden Gem – Learn about Hayti Heritage Center’s arts spaces & programming

This article is part of a continuing series on creative resources in the Triangle that are either little known, or you may have heard of them, but may be unaware of the extent of the services and resources they offer. Have an idea for a future article? Let us know.

By Taryn Oesch

With all the new arts events, venues and groups popping up all over Durham, long-time arts organizations and events are often overlooked. Last weekend was the 29th Annual Bull Durham Blues Festival at the Performance Hall at Hayti Heritgage Center.  To find out more about the Organization behind this longstanding Durham arts event, we visited Hayti Heritage Center to learn more about its mission and programming.

Director, Angela Lee, in Hayti's historic 400 seat performance venue.

Director, Angela Lee, in Hayti’s historic 400 seat performance venue.

The center opened in 1975 under the management of the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation. It’s a cultural enrichment and arts education facility whose mission, according to executive director Angela Lee, is “to preserve historic Hayti and to promote the African American experience through arts programs and events that benefit the broader community.” Booker T. Washington called the historic Hayti district “Black Wall Street,” and the Hayti Heritage Center works to honor that legacy, along with using the arts to bring communities and races together.

The center itself is the former St. Joseph’s AME Church, a national historic landmark. The beautiful venue is available for rent, with over 35,000 square feet of available space, including an auditorium that seats up to 400, community and meeting rooms, and a dance studio. There’s even affordable small office space.

Community and class rooms at Hayti, such as this Dance Studio, are available for rent.

Community and class rooms at Hayti, such as this Dance Studio, are available for rent.

The Hayti Heritage Center celebrates multiple art forms. Members of the community can sign up for classes on dance and martial arts, some for as little as $5 per class. The center also shows local artists in its Lobby Gallery – in February, the center hosted a Black History Month exhibition. At the Jambalaya Soul Slam, a staple program since 2005, local poets compete for a cash prize and membership in the Bull City Slam Team, which competes in regional and national competition every summer. The Heritage Music Series and Heritage Film Festival add to the cultural offerings.

Hayti's Lobby Gallery

Hayti’s Lobby Gallery

There’s a variety of ways artists and arts supporters can get involved with the Hayti Heritage Center and help, in Lee’s words, “preserve the heritage and embrace the experience of the arts.” Take a class, try out for the Bull City Slam Team, come to an event, rent their facility, and, of course, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.  Stop by, see the art, tour the performance venue, meet the hard-working staff and thank them for their work to continue to impact of this longstanding venue on the Durham arts community.

Taryn Oesch is an editor, writer, and long-time Raleigh resident, graduating from Wakefield High School and Meredith College. She volunteers with local arts organizations and Miracle League of the Triangle. In her free time, she plays the piano, spoils her godchildren, and battles for apartment space with her uncontrollable collection of books. Website 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Makerspace Opens in Raleigh

By Taryn Oesch

Picture a small warehouse just outside Downtown Raleigh. It’s white, fairly nondescript. Now picture yourself going inside. Again, it’s small – but it packs a punch.  Inside, there are people milling around, looking at machines and at a variety of artwork and crafts hanging on the walls and sitting on tables. There might even be a robot or two mixed in with the guests.

Raleigh makerspace created logo1No, you’re not in a sci-fi movie. You’re at the Raleigh Makerspace.

Rebecca and Matt Cooley opened the Raleigh Makerspace about a year ago, but the idea percolated in Matt’s brain for a while before then and really has its roots in a gift Rebecca gave him: a Groupon for the local branch of TechShop (a nationwide makerspace franchise). Matt took almost every class TechShop offered, discovering the makerspace was a good diversion to “exercise his creative muscles” after working in IT during the day.

Matt and Rebecca got married, went on their honeymoon, and returned to Raleigh to find the RDU TechShop had closed, leaving a lot of local creators – Matt included – without the advanced equipment they needed to finish their projects. He decided to try to buy some equipment of his own so he could at least do his own work. The idea grew, however, especially after some focus groups helped them realize how many people were looking for the same thing.

They purchased some equipment and the space, a 1500 square foot warehouse with an industrial, “kind of hip” feel to it. They worked to make the space usable, putting up walls, painting, and installing doors. Eventually, they want to move into a larger space, with more coworking space and areas for more classes; Rebecca, for instance, wants to teach painting classes. For now, however, it’s perfect.

Laser Cutter

The Makerspace’s niche is computer-assisted designs, and to that end, their two main tools are a laser cutter and a ShopBot. The laser cutter allows makers to engrave designs onto almost any material (paper, wood, and acrylic are best). They simply load their art onto the computer, provide the software with some instructions using color-coding, and press start. Matt demonstrated the laser cutter by making me a dog tag with my name on it. He’s also made keychains, and Rebecca made earrings by creating a design, having the laser cutter engrave the design into thin plywood, and going over the finished product with a paint pen.

The ShopBot is for 3D carvings like signs on wood or other materials. It has a spindle that works like a drill, turning the cutter according to computer instructions, which, like with the laser cutter are based on your design. All makers are also required to take introductory classes to the machines at the Makerspace before using them. The machines can have a learning curve and Matt provides one-on-one assistance as well. He says they’re starting to see more makers who don’t have a tech background but are inspired to create, and they want to support them and their creativity

The back half of the space, showing work areas and Makerbot

The back half of the space, showing work areas and Shopbot

Now that the Makerspace has been open for a year, it’s easy to see that Rebecca and Matt – and the Raleigh creative community – are getting excited for what comes next. Many of their original members are still with them, and they say the “Raleigh community has really come forward” to help them grow. Both of them are passionate about providing access to equipment for people who want to create – “It’s a real part of us,” Rebecca says. They’re also collaborative and invite their members to contribute their ideas for the Makerspace – there’s a whiteboard on the wall where makers can leave suggestions and write messages.

Work by Raleigh Makerspace members.

Work by Raleigh Makerspace members.

You can get involved any way you want, from just following the Makerspace on Facebook or by email, to becoming a member. There are three membership options that range from hourly access by appointment to receiving your own key with 24/7 access. Visit the website to join or request a tour. You can also come to a Hacker Night. These events are open to the public and held on the first Friday of every month from April to October at 6:30 p.m. You can meet other Makers, see what they’re making, and see a demo of the laser cutter.

Most of all, as Rebecca says, “Just make. Just keep creating.”

Taryn Oesch is a freelance writer and long-time Raleigh resident, graduating from Wakefield High School in 2006 and Meredith College in 2010. She enjoys volunteering for The Justice Theater Project and organizations that support children and teens with chronic illness and disabilities. In her free time, she plays the piano, spoils her godchildren, and battles for apartment space with her uncontrollable collection of books. 

Tags: , , , , ,

New “Read Local Festival” connects and celebrates Triangle’s “literary ecosystem”.

By Taryn Oesch

The Triangle is known for its dedication to eating local and shopping local, with such events as food truck rallies, farmers markets, and Restaurant Week becoming staples of our local culture. Now, thanks to group of dedicated volunteers, the Triangle will also be reading local.

PrintThe Triangle is home to an abundance of literary talent, and its literary culture is only improving, says Elizabeth Turnbull, local author, senior editor of Light Messages Publishing, and organizer of the new Read Local Book Festival. She uses the term “local literary ecosystem” to describe the Triangle’s literary arts scene, and the phrase is apt.  An ecosystem is a community of interdependent groups living in cooperation with each other. Certainly, this description fits our local literary ecosystem, and the Read Local Book Festival is an excellent example.

While many other state and national book festivals may only involve one publisher or bookseller, Read Local avoids competition by inviting all local vendors to participate. The festival is completely volunteer-led; even the authors are attending free of charge. Many of the events are free and the proceeds from those are being donated to the Durham Library Foundation. As Elizabeth points out, a community library, as the place where all members of the local literary ecosystem come together, is the perfect partner of a “read local” book festival.

The idea to create the Read Local Festival came from Elizabeth.  As an editor, she wanted a way to be able to really connect with her local authors – sometimes a difficult task at a small press like Light Messages. The term “Read Local” came from one of her authors. It started as a broad campaign and then they decided to create a small festival. Elizabeth gathered together a group of librarians, nationally bestselling authors, small publishers, and community volunteers, and soon this small festival grew into a two-day event to be held May 16-17. That kind of growth is “what happens when you get a group of brilliant people together,” she says. Events include workshops, panel discussions, an exhibitor fair, celebrity readings, lightning readings by emerging authors, an “Author Buffet,” and – the grand finale – “Writers in the Ring,” a boxing-themed “write-off” complete with audience jeering and cheering.  Find out who is coming, so far,  here.

Members of the local literary ecosystem, such as publishers, booksellers, designers, and artists, can apply online to participate in events or in the exhibitor fair. A full exhibitor table is $100, and half a table is $50 (again, proceeds go to the Durham County Library).

If, like me, you are excited by the thought of becoming a more integral member of the local literary ecosystem, sign up for email updates or to volunteer at the festival. There are opportunities for everybody, and the volunteer sign-up form not only allows you to select which days and times are best for you, but will tailor your volunteer shift(s) based on your interests. (For example, if you really want a volunteer role that will enable you to interact with the authors, you can say so!) If you have any questions about volunteering, email Elise Sharpe, the festival’s volunteer coordinator..

Do you tweet? Facebook? Share the event with your friends and followers! And of course, one of the easiest ways you can support the festival and your local literary ecosystem is to show up. Come to a workshop on graphic novels or a panel on writing about music, buy tickets for the Author Buffet and meet your favorite local authors, or come to Sunday’s free exhibitor fair to learn more about ecosystem members and get some swag (free in exchange for a donation to the Durham Library Foundation)! You can also contribute financially by sponsoring the event or donating online.

Aside from the Read Local Book Festival, Elizabeth and her team are working on other ways to build the “read local” movement in the Triangle and beyond. (Stay tuned for a Cookbook Rodeo!) For instance, Elizabeth wants to create a booklet to share her experience and advice for people in other towns who want to create similar “read local” festivals. She encourages everyone to “read local” by going to local booksellers and asking what local authors and presses they represent. In fact, she expands the definition of “local” and recommends doing the same when you visit another town, state, or even country: It “gives you a depth of understanding and richness you wouldn’t have otherwise.” It’s like reading Huckleberry Finn while traveling the Mississippi or perusing the poems of William Wordsworth when visiting England’s Lake District.

Taryn Oesch is a freelance writer and long-time Raleigh resident, graduating from Wakefield High School in 2006 and Meredith College in 2010. She enjoys volunteering for The Justice Theater Project and organizations that support children and teens with chronic illness and disabilities. In her free time, she plays the piano, spoils her godchildren, and battles for apartment space with her uncontrollable collection of books.


Tags: ,

When is a book visual art? New Group supports Triangle Book Artists

Image 3

Susan Leeb’s book Hidden Identity, on display at the “Code X” show at The Carrack Modern Art in December 2013. Photographer: Elisabeth Strunk-Effron.

by Taryn Oesch

One of the exciting characteristics of the Triangle is the great variety of art forms represented in the artists and organizations that live here. One of those art forms is the book arts, which Triangle Book Arts describes as including “bookbinding, artists’ books, printmaking and printing, papermaking, zines, calligraphy – followed by a hearty et cetera.”

Image 6

Book sculptures by Mary Blackwell-Chapman, as shown in the “Code X” exhibition at The Carrack Modern Art in December 2013. Photographer: Josh Hockensmith.

Josh Hockensmith is one of the founders of Triangle Book Arts, a local group that has its origins in a series of events hosted by Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill in 2010. Josh, who works at UNC’s Sloane Art Library, noticed the same group of people were going to each event and decided it would be beneficial for book artists to have a network. At first, this network consisted of 10 to 12 people.  Four years later, it’s going strong with over 100 people on its email list and 20 to 30 active members. Triangle Book Arts gathers monthly for planning meetings and workshops taught by members. They also hold group shows. These shows are gathering momentum, with three held over the past few years (including shows at The Scrap Exchange, The Carrack, and Daylight Project Space). They also have two shows in the works for 2015. Workshops are taught by members on topics such as working with mica, content generation, or specific book binding techniques. A couple of years ago, one member even hosted California’s “Wandering Book Artists,” Peter and Donna Thomas, to do a workshop, and Triangle Book Arts is hoping to host more out-of-town artists for future workshops.

Josh says he is still surprised, four years later, that he finds new people who do book arts in the Triangle all the time   Josh says this area is “saturated with people doing this kind of work”, as well as a “really vibrant arts area in general.”  This artistic climate is valuable to Triangle Book Arts, he says, because when it holds a show at a local gallery, its artists “reach a really rich art audience who may not have connected with book art otherwise.” There are book arts events in other areas of the state, too, especially in Asheville, which has a book arts show every year or so. Triangle Book Arts uses Asheville as an inspiration and an opportunity to collaborate, and the book arts groups in both places are working on holding a two-group, two-city show in 2015. Triangle Book Arts is looking for a gallery interested in being the Triangle host.

Image 2

A table of books at the Triangle Book Arts exhbition, “Code X,” at The Carrack Modern Art in December 2013. In the foreground is Lisa Gilbert’s book Seeking Nirvana: The Unintentional Buddhist. Photographer: Elisabeth Strunk-Effron.

How does one become interested in the book arts? For Josh, it started with a love of books. He is a self-described “bookworm” who majored in English in college, planning to go into creative writing. He discovered handmade books and artists books, though, and they became his “obsession.” His job at UNC has been great training.  He worked there repairing books for seven years, getting hands-on craft experience, then moved to the art library, where he works with artists’ books.

The term “artists’ books” calls to mind coffee-table books containing reprints of works by Picasso or Monet, but it actually refers to an art form. Rather than a collection of art, it is a genre that “uses the book form expressively to embody an idea or a concept.” Many of the book arts are represented in the artists’ book, including printing, binding, and papermaking. When Josh makes an artists’ book, he begins with a more conceptual, text-based idea, then thinks of a way to embody that idea in a book, including determining what materials will resonate with the idea. For example, when he makes a book of haiku, he uses Japanese materials and a Japanese binding method so that the materials, technique, and text together result in a cohesive, resonating piece of art.

Josh also says the book arts are more accessible today, thanks to the same technologies that are used to make digital media prominent. These technologies make it “easier to make really cool books….Layout programs are getting more powerful and more interesting,” and he can use InDesign and an inkjet printer to make a book at home that would have only been made in a professional shop 10 years ago.

Triangle Book Arts is celebrating a successful year with a holiday potluck on December 13; it’s open to the group, so artists who are interested in going should email Josh to be added to the listserv. He says it will be a great opportunity to meet members, who will be showing and discussing their latest work. The group will pick up with workshops and other meetings in January; these events will be communicated on the listserv. Triangle Book Arts also has a blog and a Facebook page that interested individuals can follow. In addition to Triangle Book Arts workshops, artists can learn more about the form by taking workshops taught by Triangle Book Arts member Kathy Steinsberger at Pullen Arts Center in Raleigh. The book arts community, like much of the arts community in the Triangle, is passionate, dedicated, and eager to share its talent with you.

Taryn Oesch is a freelance writer and long-time Raleigh resident, graduating from Wakefield High School in 2006 and Meredith College in 2010. She enjoys volunteering for The Justice Theater Project and organizations that support children and teens with chronic illness and disabilities. In her free time, she plays the piano, spoils her godchildren, and battles for apartment space with her uncontrollable collection of books.

Tags: , , , , , , ,