BY JENEE GREGOR
The stairs creak walking up the narrow hallway to the studio. The door on the right at the top of the stairs opens to a bright and color-filled room. The walls, covered in children’s drawings, display just about all the things bouncing around a young person’s mind.
The front room is not drawn on, but instead, painted picture frames hang on the wall, and the windows at the front of the studio overlook Ann Arbor’s Main Street. The carpet has a twinkle from many a glitter explosion. Kids have been here – things have been crafted, painted and created in this room.
Khadijah Kolleck, a Washtenaw Community College alumnus, is the founder of this space. She is originally from Mill Valley, California but has become an Ann Arborite after being here for about 15 years.
“We make believe, we make fun, we make things, we make art, we make projects, and that is really that message – to continue making through our whole life,” Kolleck said.
Her transition from school to having Make Art Studio was inspired by one of WCC’s instructors, John Dinser, who has been with the school since 1993.
“She’s doing her own thing and that’s the good part. She’s making it up and making her own way in the world,” Dinser said. “You don’t sit around anymore and wait for projects to happen to you; you have to make your own opportunities.”
“He was someone that broke down my own wall to make things again. My own things,” Kolleck said.
After Dinser’s class, the last WCC course she took, she went into the process of making something happen for herself, and having the opportunity to rent a place on Main Street dropped into her lap.
“It’s been there for going on two and half years,” Kolleck said. She has never done a formal advertising campaign and the studio’s business has grown organically, mostly because of the new kids coming from word of mouth of other parents.
She likes to keep the children away from tablets or video games and engage them in other activities to keep the imagination flowing and growing with combining art, design and making things – everything from watercolor to taking apart a computer for the circuit board.
“The maker movement, the difference between teaching kids art and making it, is a little less direct. Here are the materials, here is what the materials do, now you guys make something cool. What can we do with it?” Kolleck said. “Think outside the box, but turn the box into something.”
Kolleck gave the example about a gift-making workshop – from just mindlessly making a craft and then thinking about the mindfulness of making something for a loved one. They explore the reason for giving gifts, as well as the importance of teaching these things to kids in hopes that they will carry that, and grow into giving and caring people by sharing things they have created.
Maurice Archer, 36, a native of Ann Arbor and also WCC alumnus, will be teaching some break dance classes at Make Art Studio as well. The break dance classes are on the plan for the summer to be a three to four week class.
“I have been teaching in the area for maybe eight years now, and we’re close friends so we are going to collaborate on a project together,” Archer said. Kolleck and Archer have been friends for nearly 15 years.
Make Art Studio has been utilized by children, but it is not only a space for kids to come and express themselves, but a space for adults too. The studio has hosted art exhibits of local artists and she wants to continue to showcase art, from fine art to urban, in the studio.
“Ann Arbor and the San Francisco area share a similar vibe, Ann Arbor is filled with hidden secrets, and I feel like I am one of them,” Kolleck said. “I want this space to connect the artists, makers, and different kinds of people to show that Ann Arbor is still an art town. Ann Arbor is too cool to not have more accessible and approachable art exhibits on Main Street, and that is a mission that I hope to accomplish.”