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An Appealing and Unexpected Array of Art Classes Available at Mesa Arts Center

by Catherine Shappell | November 14, 2017

Mesa Arts Center is a gold mine! In my continuous search for self-improvement and trying something new, I found a plethora of classes at Mesa Arts Center to keep me busy for a year! I am not typically an artistic or creative type but I found plenty of art mediums that even the least inspired person, like myself, might be willing to try.

With more than 1,000 classes for children and adults during the year, the choices are abundant. These are not the mundane, unsatisfying art classes that I remember from middle school but rather classes that allow the student to create and express themselves with the most alluring forms and materials. At MAC, you’ll find an impressive array of artist-led classes designed to help students of any age and any skill level. 

For my investigative research, I cautiously entered the metal shop. Having no personal interest in metal sculpting before, I quickly found it piquing my interest. In this unfamiliar territory of heavy equipment and tools that I have no idea their purpose, I learned about sculpture programs including knife-making, bladesmithing, foundry and welding. Students can create their own one-of-a-kind sword or discover the artform of bladesmithing which has a rich cultural history, originating from diverse regions of the world. Foundry is yet another artform that molds 2,800-degree hot melted steel or bronze into casts. While students shared their personal works of art with me, welding apprentices explained the distinct sound of permanently joined metals. “It’s music to me, a buzzing sound. Almost like the sound of bacon frying.”   Experienced artists can instantly recognize the distinct sound and whether the metal has properly fused.    

I couldn’t help but poke my head into the ceramics room to discover the various wonders of using clay.  In the ceramics shop I observed students throwing pots on ceramic wheels. Other students were offered guidance to shape their clay creations by hand into sculptures and vessels. One can learn the artforms of sgrafffito, a slip decorating process, or raku, a Japanese technique of firing that creates unique effects.  The end result is an array of individuals’ handmade creations ready to enter the 2,000-degree kiln and be fired for the next 36 hours. I began to wonder what shape my first creation would take. What kind of ceramics do you want to do? 

I was impressed watching students in the art studio paint with oil and acrylic; their canvas remarkably reflecting an original and personal photo they used as a reference. The teaching artist shared other artforms in the classroom including printmaking and screen printing on paper or fabric. I was unfamiliar with the style of “intaglio;” a technique of etching or engraving onto copper plates. The results are impressive; encouraging me to learn more.

As I skimmed through the list of art classes, I began to consider taking calligraphy or a glassblowing course, available at MAC! I’ve always wanted to learn belly-dancing and guitar; I can do that here too.  While I’m at it, I could always improve my photography and improv skills. Classes are always starting just about every month. The only thing that has stopped me in the past from registering, is knowing these classes were available. 

Art class, no matter what form, has been proven to reduce stress and stimulate the brain. Focusing on art, when I hadn’t before, has made me observe the things around me, differently. The materials used, colors, the lighting, textures, angles and patterns mean a lot more to me now. It is through this experience that I want to enroll in a class with my loved ones. Why should I get all the enjoyment while my other half sits routinely and hypnotically in front of a computer or TV screen? In fact, several art teachers shared stories of families learning, creating and having fun together in the classroom. A group of co-workers, all women, had a new idea of the familiar “lady’s night out” and chose to enroll in a sculpting class. What a fantastic way to learn more about your friends or take your relationship to a new level of understanding. After all, the best memories are created together!

Look at the upcoming classes at Mesa Arts Center here. When you find a class that piques your interest, register online. Gift certificates are also available at the box office. What a unique and special surprise as a stocking stuffer or a gift for any celebration.

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