Clay Comes Aboard at Spirit of Huntington Art Center
“It’s an ill wind that blows no one any good,” goes the saying, which means even during a pandemic, good things can happen. This spring as spaces all over Long Island were shutting down and pausing, the Spirit of Huntington Art Center expanded their course offerings and welcomed Gina Mars and her “Clay Comes Alive!” classes to their facilities. Gina and the Spirit of Huntington were featured this week in Newsday both in print and online, giving readers a peek at the calm, creative atmosphere one can enjoy working with clay. Even with social distancing and the familiar rules about masks and cleaning, the classes offer a respite from stress and the chance to create something personal.
The Spirit of Huntington Art Center is a non-profit organization that believes creative expression can transform lives of students with special needs and veterans by igniting a passion in their lives. The Center was recently honored by the Long Island Imagine Awards as a finalist in two categories – Arts & Culture, and Innovation. Popular courses such as classic sculpture sessions are offered, and “Artists Come Alive,” where students with special needs learn about prominent artists who often have had to confront their own life challenges. Students then create their own masterpieces in the artists’ style. The Center holds vocational training through the ArtWORKS program, where young adults with special needs complete courses in digital art, graphic and website design, and social media management, moving on to work with non-profit organizations to fulfill their branding and marketing needs.
Amorita Snow from Glen Cove attends class with her son Ben Snow, 20, a special needs student, during a class at The Spirit of Huntington Art Center in Huntington Station on Thursday. Credit: Randee Daddona
“Gina’s classes give adults and young people a creative breather, to leave the world outside for a while and focus on something they can design and have fun with,” said Michael Kitakis, Executive Director of the Spirit of Huntington. “The classes have been offered online so far, and we are just getting back to having small groups come to the Center in person to work directly with Gina. It’s a supportive way to regain a sense of normalcy, particularly for people with special needs, or those facing challenges elsewhere in their lives. Clay is not the only thing that comes alive in the classes.”