Pick up original holiday gifts crafted by unique artists

The Jewish News
Stacy Gittleman

Stacy Gittleman

There’s a little-known gem brimming with goodness — good shopping, good deeds and good vibes — tucked away in West Bloomfield.

The Dresner Foundation Soul Studio at the Farber Soul Center is an extension of Friendship Circle’s mission of inclusion of those in the community with special needs.

The art studio provides a platform and outlet for adults with special needs to uncover their artistic talents and hone their creative skills. Painting, ceramics, weaving, sculpture, photography and more are introduced to the artists.

And the artists — including fiber artist Stephanie Harris and painter Danna Cicaramitaro, whose work was recently featured in the exhibit “One Way or The Other” at the University of Toledo’s Center for Visual Arts — will be celebrated at the Soul Studio’s 2nd Annual Gift Show Thursday, Nov. 16. The show will highlight original artwork as well as apparel, furniture and other creations made in its Soul Studio program. Prices of gifts range from $25 to more than $125, and some finds may be as inexpensive as $10. Each piece comes straight from the heart.

At the studio, artists earn a 40 percent commission from sold original pieces and 10 percent from reproduced works, such as key holders, tote bags and home furnishings.

Although the Soul Studio Gallery offers regular business hours, it also celebrates the artists with special exhibits every three months. The Gift Show is one of those special exhibits — curated for the holiday season.

“The work gives our resident artists confidence and independence,” says Soul Studio Assistant Director Cassie Johnson. “For me, this job has exceeded my expectations in my desire to be part of something special. Every day I get to witness a victory, however large or small, when our artists show their pride in what they have created.”

In the main gallery, Jacob Barron of West Bloomfield is already hard at work on his next composition: a wall mural of abstractions combined with forms, shapes and textures created with random words written in his flowing cursive penmanship.

The show will feature some functional pieces such as a sturdy cloth tote bag and ottoman created from one of his more colorful abstract compositions, then scanned into a screen printer to be used as a pattern on blank fabric.

“I love working with a quill pen and ink and then I combine that with colorful shapes, all based on how I see the world,” Barron says as he proudly showed off his creations and pointed out the details of his penned letters in his art. “Through this work, I get to explore different things and thoughts, and I’m pretty good at it.”

Andrew Lipsitt’s love of dogs shines through the moment he introduces himself. From his phone, the Franklin resident readily shows off photos of his own two dogs — a beagle and a lab/husky mix — and plans to become a veterinary technician through a degree from Macomb Community College.

This passion is evident in his large-scale paintings of canines. These designs are then shrunk down and reproduced to create dog earrings made of light wood, which are carved at the studio’s laser cutter, or blank notebook journals with designs on the front and back covers.

“I’ve already sold a few paintings here and someone has ordered some of my notebooks,” Lipsitt says. “Art helps me express myself and I love coming here.”

A giraffe onesie features artwork by Dylan Somberg.
The “End of Darkness” hoodie is silkscreened with original artwork by Lea Pollack.
A fiber-arts mezuzah crafted in the Soul Studio.
Andrew Lipsitt displays one of his dog paintings.
The Soul Studio Gallery.

The Friendship Circle Soul Studio 2nd Annual Gift Show will be held 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16 at the Farber Center, 5586 Drake Road, West Bloomfield. (248) 788-8600; friendshipcircle.org/soul.

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