Although the class was on hiatus for a time, for the third consecutive year, since opening back up after COVID, the Monroe County Public Library has hosted Crafts & Coffee Adult Art Education Classes. Recently, we added a second class that meets every other month called pART2 . pART2 is geared toward those adult art students who have a basic grasp of most techniques and need more challenges. This class is a more advanced class than C&C. And proof that with the help of Ala-Tom RC&D, we are growing!
Students in the adult art education classes, combined, created a 24-foot-long plywood framed Christmas mural last October, November and December. The mural was displayed in front of the library for the month of December and through the first week in January. Together, they created an entire village scene representing their ideas of what Charles Dickens would have referenced in A Christmas Carol. The library provided solar lighting for the mural, and it garnered quite a bit of attention from residents of Monroe County.
No one had done this in the past, and we were pleased and proud to thank Ala-Tom RC&D on the signage we placed in front of the beautiful creation.
The Council should also know that we remind our art students frequently that our classes could not take place in the amazing manner in which we are able to offer them without Ala-Tom RC&D’s generous support. Some of the adult art students were attendees prior to 2020, and recall how lacking their supplies were, both before COVID and right after we reconvened. Once Ala-Tom RC&D began helping us purchase professional art supplies, the difference was undeniable. By upgrading our supplies, we are giving our students the same opportunities they would get if they were paying for classes. Not surprising, that makes a world of difference!
The library also hosts two teen art education classes each month. Painting With A Purpose teen art education classes are held in partnership with the Monroe County Children’s Policy Council. The attendees of this class represent young beginner artists through very advanced artists. Initially, it began as an opportunity for “at risk” youth to have an outlet for their pent-up energy. However, it has evolved into much more than that. Today it draws children from all over the county, crosses over all levels of learning abilities, and represents children who have had behavioral issues in the past, as well as children that never have. Because of their differences, these children might not ever cross paths, except for this class.
Because all the work the teens create belongs to them, they were given an opportunity to sell their wares at the Monroeville Market last November. With the help of their adults, many of our children brought some items they created in class along with items they created at home to sell at the holiday market. The library provided a tent with tables and the Children’s Policy Council covered the entry fee. PWaP teens learned how to display and market their items, negotiate with buyers, act with professionalism, and sell their wares. This was an outstanding way Ala-Tom RC&D’s investment went out of the classroom, to the next level, and gave our children a sense of pride in themselves many had not felt before. In fact, we have had several of them ask if we can repeat that again this November.
The success of these programs has far exceeded our expectations. With funding from Ala-Tom RC&D Council, coupled with donations from Monroe County United Way, Monroe County Children’s Policy Council and private donors, these classes continue to grow and reach a variety of participants from throughout our county.