Almost a year ago today, weecreatebk, an arts-based play space for children 2-7 years old, opened in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The center, located at 182 Ralph Avenue (between Macon and MacDonough Streets) is opened on Saturdays, from 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., and is the brainchild of Shana Jackson, an artist and preschool teacher at Stuyvesant Heights Montessori.
“Pratt, FIT and Parsons have tuition-based arts programs for grade-school students,” said Jackson, a graduate of FIT and the University of Delaware in fine arts and fashion.
“But I felt that instead of having to travel into the city or other neighborhoods to receive quality arts programming, it would be nice to get that in your own community and right around the corner.”
The space, approximately 450 square feet, is bright, immaculate and, of course, colorful, with a free-play area to encourage the child’s imagination.
Jackson emphasizes that the children who come to weecreatebk do not have to be art-inclined. That is, she’s simply using art as a way to help flower the creative minds of children before their brains become “fixed.”
“What I notice is that children under five still think in abstract ways, and it’s reflected in their painting,” she said. “Any 9-, 10-, 11-year-old, when asked to paint, they paint a house, a tree or stick figures.
“These works were done by children under five,” said Jackson waving to the tender, milk-fed artwork hanging about the room. “And to me, these look like the works you’d see in a museum or would sell for $5,000. The thing about it is, I like to try to grab their brains before they get a bit more linear.”
The children learn what effects the different brushes produce, so after a while, they are encouraged to choose their own brushes. And Jackson, along with her co-teacher and artist Jessica Ayala, together introduce their budding Picassos to processes and techniques they normally wouldn’t begin learning until high school, such as color theory and mixed medium. And at the end, they always sign, matte and frame all of their work.
“The look on their faces once they see it in a matte and frame is priceless,” said Jackson, “because it allows them to take serious ownership over what they’re doing.”
Jackson and Ayala are in the process now of licensing weecreatebk to become a full-time arts preschool, shooting for a September opening. However between now and through the summer, they plan to launch a portfolio clinic for pre-teens preparing to apply to arts-based high schools, as well as hold a few adult sewing classes.
Single classes at weecreatebk are $25; $90 for a four-session pack; and they open on Sundays for birthday parties. Also, class size does not exceed more than 11 kids at a time, so you may have to book now for classes later.
However, right now, they are offering the “weecreatebk Free Pass,” valid for one visit during the school’s Paint and Play Saturday sessions, so you can preview how the classes are run before you purchase.
For more information on weecreatebk and for a full schedule of classes and prices, you can visit their website, or call them at 347-658-7857.