The Stowe Reporter caught up with Rachel Moore, executive director of the Helen Day Art Center, to learn more about the makerspace that’s now in the works.
Q: When did the idea of a makerspace at Helen Day come up?
A couple of years ago we discussed reactivating the hands-on room in the galleries, and last year formalized a larger initiative and launched a campaign for an Interpretive Learning Program (aka Gallery Education). This includes activating and curating the hands-on room for each exhibition to promote artistic literacy and a hands-on approach to learning about the themes of each exhibit through making and tinkering.
It also includes public programming, like artist talks, Art 101 lectures, humanities lectures that relate to the exhibits, an increase in school tours and public tours, and free educational materials for the galleries.
It’s since evolved to include more tools and equipment across both gallery education and classroom education.
Q: What activities and offerings might be available in the makerspace?
The goals are to add a digital area in the current hands-on room with a desktop computer for design and a laser printer. We’d like to set up a new lounge area within the galleries with our library collection, include more iPads and monitors to screen artist interviews and educational films related to the exhibits, as well as provide gallery guides, artist statements and reference books pertaining to the exhibits — from our library and borrowed from the Stowe Free Library. This place would be an area to both relax and enjoy the exhibition content and have a cup of coffee or tea.
We’d like to set up a ceramic studio, printmaking studio and woodworking studio to support our after-school classes, camps, adult classes, our visiting artists-in-residence and school tours.
Q: What are the logistics of creating the makerspace?
Our goal is to continue to be a flexible space that can transform for public programs, facility rental, private events, class or gallery needs. These tools will be incorporated into the classrooms and hands-on room and the East Gallery will be transformed into our art lounge.
More than creating a standalone “Makerspace,” we’re trying to create an overall art lab vibe that really activates our building and encourages participation and engagement. That being said, we’ll need to build out a kiln room, or ceramic studio, or both, dependent upon permissions from the town.
Q: What’s needed in terms of equipment, or renovations, to make the space happen?
We need a printmaking press, a kiln, slop sink, benches, tables on wheels, laser cutter, iMac, iPads, mounting devices, low bookshelves, exhaust and ventilation system, build-out of the kiln room, kiln, drying racks, woodworking tools — and permissions from the town!
We’ll do this in phases, and as permissions are granted. If we can have a ceramic studio, we’ll look into pottery wheels and other equipment at that point.
Q: What’s the timeline?
I would love to see this some of this open in six months, which I believe is possible. However, for much of this we’ll have to wait for permitting and raise the additional funds necessary.