Dalton School of Art says creativity is for everyone

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DALTON — Sometimes, teaching art is about not teaching at all.     

"I've had so many experiences where it has nothing to do with me teaching," said Elizabeth Kick, founder of The Dalton School of Art & Creativity. "I'm facilitating and offering this space. And honestly, it's a miracle. People's fear is transformed into acceptance of themselves."

The Dalton School of Art, which opened in February, offers a range of classes for all ages, including fundamentals of painting, life drawing open studios and collage classes. The classes are primarily on weeknights, 6:30 to 9 p.m., although some are offered Friday and Saturday mornings. Six-class punch cards can be bought for $75 to $150, while the drop-in fee is usually $15 per class.

Kick worked in a corporate environment for years before deciding to prioritize her love of art. She holds a bachelor's degree in art education and a master's degree in studio art.

"I wanted to have a career that combined my passions of art and nature and spirit, and I wanted to give," she said.

After a friend recommended that Kick talk to Steve Sears, the owner of the Stationery Factory at 63 Flansburg Ave., she rented space inside to teach.

"People are going to think I'm crazy, but I liquidated my 401(k)," she said. "I should have it for retirement, but there would be no way I could afford this."

Kick said that there have been challenges to opening the school, such as lack of public awareness and how time-consuming it is. She works by herself, but has faith that the classes will fill up and wants to hire more teachers to help. She teaches at Lanesborough Elementary School and Canyon Ranch in Lenox, in addition to The Dalton School.

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"I'm a little all over the place, but there's not one thing I want to give up, because I love every piece of it," she said.

Some of Kick's students will be featured in the Community Access to the Arts (CATA) annual art show, July 5 to Aug. 25, at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts and The Clark Art Institute.

Students called her classes fun and rewarding.

"She's so nurturing," said Samantha Talora, who attended Kick's Family Paint N' Sip class in March. "Elizabeth brought snacks and wine, and we had a really wonderful time. None of us had ever done anything like that before. She was so warm and welcoming."

The classes can be a moving experience for the students and their teacher.

"Somebody will be like, 'Oh, my God, I was so afraid to do this, and I'm doing it,' and they'll start to cry," Kick said, tearing up herself. "This is my purpose. This is why I'm on this planet. I have something to give to people."

Kick's initial vision for the school was a safe space for people to learn about and explore art together.

"The very first thing I offer for them is the safety," she said. "We all have that experience when we say 'I'm not good at that.' Where I come in is to say 'You can do that.'"

Reach Sophie Gaddes at sgadess@berkshireeagle.com.


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