NUarts Studios and Gallery: Creating art, community with heart

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PITTSFIELD — Most art exhibits have a strict policy: no touching, please. At NUarts Studios and Gallery, things are radically different.

From 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, NUarts Studios and Gallery in Pittsfield — a space which hosts a constantly revolving group of artists creating and exhibiting there — will invite the public to interact with the gallery's current exhibit showcasing young artists. "All of our studios will be open then," said Marney Schorr, who will be exhibiting her own work at the show. "The public can come make art with us, see all types of art, and ask us questions."

Schorr moved from Long Island to the Berkshires nine years ago, and has been at NUarts Studios and Gallery for four years now. She is a teaching artist and art therapist who helps adolescents express themselves through creative mediums that are centered around art. She teaches various art therapy classes — 10 of her students will be featured at the show, all of them between the ages of 13 and 17.

"We're calling the show art from the heart because a lot of our work is emotive, it comes from real feelings," she said as she sat among her own eye-catching studio paintings. "I think the classes help build empowerment — a lot of young people feel powerless in a world driven by adults, so the art gives them their own voice and their own personal power."

Each piece is distinct — some paintings show horses galloping across the backdrop of a vivid sunset, others are more abstract, with human hands seemingly grasping into an abyss of clashing colors.

Jack Kelly, 16, of Pittsfield, has now taken two of Schorr's 12-week art-therapy group classes, and some of his pieces will be on display at the show. One of his favorite creations depicts an abstract purple heart surrounded by a sea of red, with the word "Love" painted in the lower left corner.

"The inspiration for my work is all centered on how I feel about myself and how I feel about other people," said Kelly. "Influences from the people around me have inspired me to be bold," he said, gesturing at his painting.

Kelly, however, doesn't just focus on painting as his only form of artistic expression. He also writes poems and short stories.

"I've presented and written a lot of my poems in Marney's art group," he said. "A lot of our end products end up being more about the emotions and environments that we build within the groups."

In addition to the pieces on display by teenage artists, NUarts Studios and Gallery has 20 different studios in the building that will be open for locals to come and see what the different artists are working on. The public will also be able to work directly with the artists.

"We've started doing interactive art making in the studios, so the artists are participating hands-on in the community, which adds something different to it than most shows," said Schorr. "Here, people are making art with us, there are community projects, they get a real feeling of what it's like to work in an artist studio, and it makes it so accessible to everyone."

Peggy Morse, an abstract painter, has just moved into a studio at NUarts — she is excited to work with the community.

"The actual making of the art can be a meditative experience — it can be something that takes you out of your life in that moment of creativity, and something awesome can happen, some sort of spark," she said. "It's great when everybody gets to have that experience too."

Many of Morse's compositions are inspired by natural elements, and she uses a variety of diverse techniques, such as spreading paint on an inking brayer and rolling it onto the paper to create a melange of shapes and colors.

At the NUarts Studios and Gallery show, the artists are looking forward to fostering a deeper connection between their surrounding friends, family and neighbors, through their artistic creations.

"I hope that everyone takes away a strong sense of community, and an inspiration to find ways to express themselves as best they can," said Kelly. "This exhibit really shows that there are ways in which everybody can have a better understanding of each other and be more comfortable and open by presenting different kinds of ideas or emotions through whichever mediums they find appropriate."


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