‘It lets me be creative’: Group provides free art supplies for Albuquerque kids

Community Reports

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – In what is now their twentieth year, OFFCenter Community Art Studio is still finding ways to keep the community creative. Art kits in clear, plastic bags are often taped to the outer windows of the OFFCenter building for community members to have a contact-free way to access the kits.

Since the start of the pandemic, OFFCenter has hosted various online classes until they are allowed to hold in-person activities. The crafts for children take about 30 minutes to complete and were often led by a staff member over Zoom to guide them through putting the project together.

Nevaeha, 6, and her sister Serenity, 7, created cat masks this week after picking up art kits. “I want to do it again,” Serenity said. “Except this time I want to do a butterfly. It lets me be creative and I like that even though we made a mess and had to clean it up.”

Art kit recipients Nevaeha and her sister Serenity show off their most recent craft supplied by OFFCenter Arts.

OFFCenter recently expanded this program into the OFFCenter Art Supply Commons. This program offers free art supplies for all community members, all they have to do is fill out a request form listing the supplies they need and staff will reach out to let them know if they have supplies available for pick up.

Asenath Lizarraga is the program manager for the virtual kid’s craft series as well as the art commons. She said the organization also took inspiration from other nonprofits in Albuquerque who are giving back to the community.

The art commons originated from an effort to continue providing resources to the creative community during pandemic-related studio closures. Requests are accepted on a rolling basis. OFFCenter staff will attempt to connect community members with supplies that are useful to their practice at no cost to the participant.

Lizarraga feels this program will help community members deal with the pandemic in a healthy way because everyone gives them the ability to express themselves through art. “I’ve seen at OFFCenter how people use this medium to build community, for self-exploration and ultimately I believe that accessing our creativity and embracing our imagination is integral to transforming and healing,” Lizarraga said.

The organization always welcomes donations, whether they be monetary or art and studio supplies. To learn more, visit their offcenterarts.org.

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