The Freedom of the Open Studio

"I knew I liked taking photos," says Diamond, looking through dozens of beautiful images, "but I didn't know that I really loved photography in a serious way before I worked with the SPOT." 

 Teen Open Studio student Diamond Davis

 Teen Open Studio student Diamond Davis

The SPOT is a visual arts & media program for youth 12-18 that emphasizes studio time, field visits to local studios & galleries, and visits by local working artists. Youth participating in the program investigate and express their own creative interests, following the threads to new techniques, new tools, and new artistic mentors in the community. 

The SPOT isn’t your average art class. On a given day, a visitor could run across a pair of students spray painting a cardboard sculpture just outside the studio door, hurrying to get their work ready for a local art festival. Inside, music plays as a pair of girls rehearse dance moves in a corner. A main table is covered with drying clay figurines as students use iPads to research why their figures’ arms keep falling off. “Can we get armature wire to try next week?” one asks, looking up from a ceramics website. Will it work? We’ll all find out together. 

Other times, a visiting artist will lead a short workshop or students will meet at a local studio or shop. Together, students have lifted each other up while learning Acro-Yoga, created their own custom chocolates at a workshop hosted by BonBonBon, and had their artwork admired by hundreds at the Sidewalk Festival in Detroit. Every month, we brainstorm new places to explore, new art experiences to have, and what other awesome stuff we want to create with our friends in our neighborhoods.

That choice is vitally important. Diamond chose to use the freedom of open studio time during the SPOT to experiment with a professional-quality digital camera. At first, she took snapshots of different class moments, but following her natural curiosity, she began focusing on capturing Living Arts dance students mid-movement. Diamond's next experiment is learning to take formal portraits of Living Arts dancers under the guidance of a local photographer. "At first I was just playing around," she says, "but now I feel serious. I’m telling my mother I want a camera of my own." 

That’s how learning happens at the SPOT: with play, with curiosity, and with a lot of surprises along the way.

The SPOT is accepting new students, with a focus on printmaking for the next 3 months. Interested students should contact Zack at 313-384-2902.