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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Empowering Art

Photo of artist Kim Shaw's home studio with work table, tools, and artwork on the walls
Kim Shaw

For many years, Kim Shaw taught art to children at the Kazoo School. Then COVID happened.

Teaching is now very different than it was before. And, like many teachers, Shaw has explored new ways to connect with youth and adults through virtual art classes, workshops, and even parties. She’s also interested in art as therapy, and as a way to remain connected with ourselves and others.

A conversation with Kim Shaw

“I’ve always been interested in art,” Shaw says. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. It was the one thing I felt empowered by, so any opportunity I had to do a creative project, I jumped in on that. As I got older, I got into painting, specifically oil painting, and that’s the type of art I love the most.”

Credit Fran Dwight
Kim Shaw

Shaw shared her art with students for many years. But during the pandemic she made the difficult decision to strike out on her own, offering virtual instruction from her own studio. She also offers art as a means for healing and for dealing with the isolation and chaos of the COVID pandemic.

“Say there are a few people working together, whether it’s online or in person, and you have materials in front of you, there’s this emotion that pulls you down, awaits you, in a good way, and helps you to feel more open,” she says. “And while you are working, you can have conversation, and maybe it’s about the work, but it might also just be about feelings you are going through. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had for that experience. I’ve been finding more and more adults are looking for that experience right now.”

Shaw has brought people of all ages together, many from across the nation and beyond. Her virtual art parties are customized for most any event, including birthdays, holiday parties, and other gatherings created around a theme. She offers lessons for individuals or groups.

Shaw says the pandemic has allowed her more time for her own art, too. She does commissioned work, including pet portraits, but is exploring new creative expressions of her own.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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