It’s not just an office door, it’s a magic portal.
At the end of the hall on the second floor of the Community Arts Center, is that office door. It looks like every other office door, but it’s much more than that. Inside, dreams take shape. On the other side of that door lies Lisi’s Art Lab, an open art studio for children. Initially created with the generous support of the Gross Family Foundation, Lisi’s Art Lab is a whimsical space designed for creative exploration. It has been a favorite destination for families with young children for several years.
“Art should de-stress, not cause stress,” says Megan Dove, a mother of three and regular visitor to Lisi’s Art Lab. “Too often, parents avoid doing art at home because there’s inevitably so much mess. Lisi’s Lab provides a beautiful, contained space with inspiring supplies. My kids learn to take care of a shared community space and be proud of how they contribute.”
Until recently, Lisi’s Art Lab did double duty as adult classroom space, sometimes with comical results. “One day, we discovered that one particularly creative three-year-old had painted all the replica skulls for the adult drawing class bright blue. She had also added glitter!” says Education Director, Maggie Shapiro Haskett. “After that, we decided that our youngest artists needed a creative space that was entirely their own.”
Thanks to a grant from Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky, Lisi’s Art Lab was relocated down the hall from its previous home and given a major facelift. A cheery blue ceiling evokes a bright sky while sparkling butterflies adorn the walls and colored paper lanterns hang from the ceiling.
“Toyota believes that every child should have the opportunity to succeed in life. We believe early childhood educational programs play an essential role in preparing children for their future success as they enter school. Toyota made the decision to support Lisi’s Art Lab because we think arts programs play a vital role in creative thinking development which in turn supports a well-rounded education and a well-rounded individual,” said Wil James President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky located in Georgetown.
Built-in shelving lines the walls, stocked with an array of art supplies, from paints and brushes to magazines and greeting cards for collage projects to macaroni and bottles of glue.
One new addition has proved particularly popular. The “bling carousel” is a repurposed spice rack, its jars filled with beads, buttons, rhinestones, sequins, googley eyes, and other treasures perfect for adding a little pizzazz to a project.
Bulletin boards on two walls allow children to display their work, while an “inspiration board” features rotating project ideas and instructions. Materials for the featured projects are grouped together on a designated shelf to make them easy to find. “Our goal is to allow for free creative exploration, but also provide some inspiration in terms of project ideas.” says Shapiro-Haskett.
Lisi’s Art Lab is open any time the Arts Center is open — 10am to 6pm on weekdays and 10am to 4pm on Saturdays. It is free to the public, though visitors are encouraged to make a donation to help maintain the studio and restock supplies.
A version of this article was originally published by the Advocate Messenger on June 7th, 2015.