Free art workshops offered at Millvale library

Sunday, August 11, 2019 | 12:01 AM


Adults can explore their creative sides through six free art workshops at the Millvale Community Library, thanks to two Millvale residents who have secured a $2,500 grant for the programming.

Abi Beddall and Sheena Carroll have won the Neighborhood Allies Love My Neighbor! funding for the beginner-level workshops running through September. Library staff, with Pennsylvania child abuse clearances, will provide free child care.

“We believe in giving back to the community. This means offering free resources to our neighbors, but it also means giving paid opportunities to local artists. The Teaching Artists Series aims to do just this, by bringing a variety of local talents to the library to share their skills with residents who normally can’t afford to attend art classes and artist talks. Continuing education has been shown to benefit adults both mentally and physically. We want to show our love to Millvale residents by improving arts accessibility,” Beddall and Carroll wrote on their grant application.

They posted on social media seeking artists to teach the workshops.

“We wanted to keep it as open as possible, (so) anything from performance art to oil painting to calligraphy. If it’s considered art, apply,” Carroll said.

One of the more abstract classes, according to Carroll, is artist Suzanne Werder’s Aug. 25 session about creativity.

“If you’re not creative, or if you don’t know where to start, her workshop is dedicated to helping you figure that out and inspire you,” Carroll said.

“Even as a professional artist I’m, like, yeah, I want to know how to do that,” Beddall, library teaching artist and clerk, said.

Steph Neary of Bloomfield is leading an Aug. 15 worry doll workshop.

“My mother would give me tiny Guatemalan worry dolls, or trouble dolls, as a child,” Neary said. “The folklore around worry dolls is that you place one under your pillow, sleep over the whole thing and in the morning light the doll is said to take away your troubles. Whimsical advice for truly troubling times has had an everlasting effect of me and my art practice.”

Participants will use simple embroidery to stitch the dolls.

Neary thinks folklore, like the type surrounding the worry dolls, is an important tool for illustrating “justice, rights and social obligations.” Folktales showcase a shared history, highlight traditions and create a sense of well-being.

Carroll is especially excited for Rigel Richardson’s Sept. 15 oil painting lesson, as she said beginning supplies are costly.

It is important to Beddall and Carroll that they compensate the artists teaching their workshops.

“To try to bring equity and pay people with the stuff that we do, I think, is really important,” Beddall said, noting that doing so works to boost teaching artists’ confidence levels.

Beddall and Carroll are multidisciplinary artists themselves. Beddall has a sculpture and performance art background. She co-founded the Pittsburgh-based Bunker Projects artist residency and experimental gallery and curates the Pittsburgh Performance Arts Festival. In addition to her library position, she is a Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild teaching artist. Carroll runs Girls Write Pittsburgh’s pop-up writing mentorship workshops and organizes the Lawrenceville-based Hell’s Lid Reading Series. She read poetry at the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, paints and performs music. She works in marketing at the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Love My Neighbor! is a Neighborhood Allies initiative investing in resident-led projects aiming to improve the target communities of Hill District, Hilltop, Homewood, Larimer, Millvale and Wilkinsburg. Grants range from $500 to $2,500.

Millvale Teaching Artists Series:

6:30 p.m., Aug. 15: Making Worry Dolls with Steph Neary

11 a.m., Aug. 25: Creative Juice Kickstarting with Suzanne Werder

6:30 p.m., Sept. 12: DIY Soy Candles with Katie Oldaker

11 a.m. Sept. 15: Portrait Oil Painting with Rigel Richardson