Dear Community –

Who knew that doing a project like this was going to be so people and relationship-centered? (Everyone but us probably knew it, but we finally caught up – ha!). Since we last wrote, we have been doing a lot people-ing.

We had a great Build Bash with the folks from Abby’s Acre, getting to explore their land and see all of the great stuff they have going on. Meeting some more of the team was fun, and we are very excited about our plans to collaborate this year. During that visit, we were able to co-create some building plans for the Art Closets using some incredible software that then converts this abstract idea into specific steps and processes to make the vision come to life. We are working toward three “little free library” sized Art Closets and two larger “kitchen cabinet” sized Art Closets. The Abby’s Acre folks were supportive and encouraging in helping us to get a dream into a concrete plan for wood and nails.

During that visit we were also able to get our hands dirty, helping out to build one of their fabulous bat boxes and show off our power-tool-savvy. We talked events for the future, including some really exciting things for the community to come hang out and get their (metaphorical and literal) hands dirty along with us. We couldn’t be more happy to have this collaboration going and credit it all to the 24 Hour Citizen process.

The second big update is related to our first Art Closet install. We met with the folks at J. Wallace James and planned for a location and the process for teaming up. Our first larger “kitchen cabinet” size Art Closet will be housed on the school property and will give both the J.W. James community and the surrounding neighborhood community a place to donate and access art supplies. Our team member, Missy, (who is also the full-time art teacher at J.W. James) was also able to be celebrated a bit by the school and the greater Lafayette Parish School System. The LPSS communication team stopped by and got a photo of Missy and some of her students with the giant check from the big event. The kids were blown away by the giant check – it was a big hit. This also allowed for the introduction of our design contest to the kids at J.W. James. The 4th and 5th grade art students will be invited to create a design for their Art Closet, which will then be voted on, and the winning design will be co-created by the classes on the Art Closet. The kids are thrilled to be able to leave their mark and to get their hands involved in the process. There’s a temporary art supply donation box (painted by us) in the main office of J.W. James while we await the project’s completion. We’ll keep y’all updated on this process. We’ll need you, Community, to get your vote in for the winning design, too!

We have been getting our hands into some other fun things, spreading the word about the Art Closet vision and gaining supporters. We’re excited about the new studio over at Borderless Color (@borderless_color on Instagram) and the potential for more collaboration with them. We also linked up with the folks with the Free Little Art Gallery on Roosevelt St., so we have been sharing content for one another and they were kind enough to stop by and donate some great art supplies for the Art Closet currently living on Audubon (check our social media for addresses: @AcadianaArtCloset).

The timeline for our project is very much in the “hurry up and wait” phase – so don’t let the updates pass you by. When things start happening, they are going to happen FAST. We would hate for you to get left behind and miss out on the celebration along the way. Be sure to follow us on social media, stop by the Art Closet from time to time to see what kind of supplies might spark your creativity, and we would be so appreciative of shares on social media and you talking us up in real life among your friends and family. Our hearts are still so full and we are so excited about all of the potential ahead of us – and we want you on the team, too! If you are passionate about the arts, from making it to looking at it or just advocating for the power of the arts in people’s lives, you are one of us! Let’s make magic happen for Acadiana. <3

Acadiana Art Closet Team