SpinOff artists turn instructors for MSAD11 Adult Ed

“Very patient” teachers help first-timers weave scarves, belts

SpinOff artist Kim Christensen, left, assisted Jen Campbell of Litchfield with her first weaving project, a scarf in greens and blues.

GARDINER – The looms at SpinOff Studio on Water Street have been busy this winter as community members try their hands at weaving in an MSAD 11 adult education course taught by studio members. SpinOff Studio, a program of Independence Association, uses a range of arts to help adults with disabilities to live into their strengths. Studio members work under the guidance of professional artist-mentors who have received specialized training in how to best support adults with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, or autism. Each artist-member is working toward at least four personal growth goals at any given moment. Those goals might include such items as overcoming a specific manual dexterity challenge, practicing best ways to communicate art critiques, and engaging on a regular basis with members of the larger community. Community engagement often happens during lunch and snack breaks, when artists frequent downtown businesses and restaurants. Artists provide studio tours and sell their work in the storefront gallery. The MSAD 11 class offered a new chance to invite the community into the studio. For occupational therapist Jen Campbell of Litchfield, this MSAD 11 adult education course was a first foray into weaving and only her second adult education class. On Wednesday, the last formal night of the five-week class, she was wondering whether it would really be alright to cut the warp to finish her woven work (the answer was “Yes”). “I hope they continue to offer classes,” Campbell said. “I think a lot of people would be interested.” Instructor Kim Christensen of Albion, a member of SpinOff Studio, was teaching in Gardiner Wednesday night after having taught weaving in the elementary classrooms of Brunswick’s Coffin School earlier in the day. “I like to be a busy bee!” she commented.

SpinOff artist Jessica Prime works on her own weaving when she’s not assisting MSAD11 adult education students. “Very patient” is how one student describes the teaching by SpinOff studio members.

New courses are planned for the fall term, SpinOff Manager Jonathan Price said: another weaving class and a course in wood burning. The wood burning class will be taught by SpinOff’s Scott Shaw, who shared billing with a New Mexico artist in a show at The Mix in Brunswick last October. Both classes will be limited in size according to the number of looms and wood burning workstations the studio supports, Price noted.

Scott Shaw, below, will teach woodburning in the fall. His work frequently uses skull images (above) reminiscent of Day of the Dead celebrations.

    “My vision for having the studio downtown in the community is to create a full circle, where the community supports the programs and our individuals, and the individuals have a very visible, active role as members of their community,” says Price. Gardiner has known SpinOff members as partners in constructing the wooden benches in the downtown district, as art exhibitors at stores and restaurants throughout the community, and as managers of last year’s Gardiner Farmers’ Market. The studio members’ new role as art teachers adds another arc to the circle.
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