EAST GARFIELD PARK — A West Side art studio had to close just a week after it opened because of the pandemic — but its classes are finally back after being on pause for years.
The art studio offers two- to three-hour-long classes in media like macrame, fused glass, ceramics, bookbinding, paper making and weaving. Ivonne Cruz, founder and executive director, priced classes at $40 each — cheaper than many art workshops in the city because she wants the classes to be accessible, she said.
“I want it to be welcoming. You can come in and not feel any apprehension,” Cruz said. “I want it to be a space where it’s safe, so that people are willing to be a little vulnerable and learn a new skill and talk to people.”
Cruz opened Dragonfly in March 2020 — and closed a week later because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, she’s been open intermittently, taking pauses because of COVID-19 upticks and burnout. Cruz most recently reopened Dragonfly in January, but she focused on getting the gallery and artist studio rental programs up and running, which is why classes didn’t restart until now.
Cruz hopes to build an environment where people from across generations can learn and create together. Adults who sign up for weekend classes can bring a kid for free.
All of the artists teaching at Dragonfly jumped at the opportunity to work with families, Cruz said.
“Everyone loved the idea,” Cruz said. “They said that’s something that they’ve been wanting to do.”
Cruz sees her nonprofit — which hosts five studio artists, curates gallery exhibits and offers classes — as filling a crucial gap in Chicago’s art scene.
“I am an artist, and I’m a Latina, and born and raised in Chicago,” she said. “And I’ve noticed, as I was an artist, that there weren’t too many galleries and communities where they really supported women artists, BIPOC artists.”
The city’s galleries primarily feature established artists, making it hard for up-and-coming minority creators to break in, Cruz said. Because of that, Cruz has included at least one artist who’s never shown their work before in every gallery show at Dragonfly, she said. She loves seeing them bloom.
Cruz said the joyful community space lends itself well to new people, like those who might be interested in taking classes.
“It’s super affordable. It’ll be fun. You’ll meet some really cool people. And you’ll learn something new,” Cruz said. “You’ll come out of the workshop with something that you can be proud of.”
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