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Passion Works invites community to ‘fly with them’ with their most ambitious art installation and fundraiser yet

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For 23 years Passion Works Studio has been a place of joy, freedom, and respect. This is true for both the studio’s artists with developmental differences as well as the wider community into which the profound beauty of the art and collaborations crafted within the studio radiate out.

The collaborative community arts organization and experiential learning center is currently in the midst of their most ambitious annual operations fundraiser and art installation to date. Entitled Time to Fly, the fundraiser has a goal of raising $250,000 by December 15. As donations roll in, corresponding flying creatures (such as bees, dragonflies, birds, butterflies, suns, clouds, owls, hawks, or peacocks) crafted by Passion Works artists will be added to a growing installation in the Athens studio. As donation levels grow, so will the colorful additions to the display.

Time to Fly

“We need your help so we can operate — so we can do this magic that has been happening for 23 years. We do not receive government funding. And I think one of the things that we don’t amplify often is that we do not have outside continuous funding sources to keep us going. We are in a constant hustle. We are a business,” said Patty Mitchell, Passion Works Founder and Executive Director. “We are looking to create employment and up-cycled products, but to do all of that, we have to grow exponentially and we are just now looking at what we need to continue to be fluid in our work. As a nonprofit, we have the ability to ask for support from our community — and we have so many friends and so many visionaries out there. And we truly, truly need their support to keep going.”

Nancy Epling, Artist in Residence at Passion Works, extrapolated on what work donors will be supporting through Time to Fly.

“We are a community art studio and nonprofit. We directly support artists with developmental differences. We give them a space and the tools to market and create their art. Staff artists, like myself, collaborate with them on a daily basis. The core artists, which are the artists with developmental differences, lead the aesthetic of the studio,” said Epling. “We also invite local artists as well as just community members into our space to make and collaborate alongside us, to kind of unify and share joy and passion with our community and beyond.”

“We are a community art studio and nonprofit. We directly support artists with developmental differences. We give them a space and the tools to market and create their art. Staff artists, like myself, collaborate with them on a daily basis. The core artists, which are the artists with developmental differences, lead the aesthetic of the studio, We also invite local artists as well as just community members into our space to make and collaborate alongside us, to kind of unify and share joy and passion with our community and beyond.” – Nancy Epling, Artist in Residence at Passion Works

Mitchell said that while much has changed since the first Ohio Arts Council grant funded workshop she organized over 20 years ago, the mission underlying the work has remained throughout the decades.

“I believe to my core that when you give an authentic space with respect, comfort, connection, purpose, and belonging, to any group of people, our creative collective spirit will just expand and blow our own minds and the minds of those around us. And that’s all that is what we’ve been doing. It has been this simple idea to create connection through making, through touching each person who comes into the studio — whether they’re a customer or a participant or a volunteer — and letting them know that what they bring into the space matters, and that their participation changes what is happening in the studio,” said Mitchell. “You know, it has not been an easy road — because we are disruptors. We are not an institution. We are not a therapy program. We are something very different — and we’re disrupting the status quo. We’ve been creating evidence for this approach and inviting everyone around us to join us. And it’s getting easier and easier every day to convince the establishment, as it were, to shift its perspective and perception of people who they perceive to be different. We’re all the same. We need connection, purpose, and belonging to thrive. And that’s what we offer. The art is a by-product of our love for each other, our talents and our interests.”

Find more information on Time to Fly and Passion Works, as well as how you can donate, by visiting passionworks.org. Also at that website, you can do holiday shopping, complimented by Passion Works’ shipping department which allows you to buy a gift on their website, have it packaged with a personalized note, and sent anyplace in the country. Epling and Mitchell also encourage listeners and readers to follow Passion Works on social media. Find them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.