Pint-Sized Picassos


Having one-of-a-kind works of art is a great way to decorate your home and set it apart from the run-of-the-mill, mass-produced pieces that pop up in houses all over the country. But getting your hands on those special masterpieces can be out of reach for those of us not living in the top one percentile—unless, of course, the mastermind creating the work is living right under your very own roof.

What better way, then, to decorate your home with unique pieces of art and encourage budding talent to bloom could there be than using your children’s art projects as a part of your décor? It’s a win-win situation, as you’ll be making your child feel acknowledged and validated at the same time as you have a ready supply of extra-special, one-off creations that will be a conversation piece worth talking about.

Helping to shepherd the young creatives in the Clarksville community is an organization called Artlink, a local non-profit spearheaded by Sacer and Savive custom clothier owner and designer Maria Haycraft. As a very creative woman herself, the entrepreneur understands the need to develop artistic talent and to allow it to find an outlet of expression. “Our mission at Artlink is to ignite passion and build character through creativity,” Haycraft explains. “We offer a free and creative environment for young people—and really, people of all ages—to find

their own outlet, whether it be visual art, music, or even something physical like skateboarding or dance.”

“We believe that everyone needs a creative outlet, because it allows us to develop vital skills and confidence as we move from childhood to adulthood,” Haycraft goes on. “Art is so vital to our lives, but art education is being taken away in so many parts of the country; and that has far greater repercussions than many people realize. It’s a loss that strips children of the opportunity to build their self-confidence and learn how to take healthy risks. Art teaches them problem-solving skills that help them navigate through life, and that can impact the future for all of us. One of our goals with this organization is to stand in the gap by providing volunteer-taught lessons and classes and showcasing the works of some of our local artists,” she says.

For children who are just beginning to understand themselves and finding their place in the world especially, art can be a critical way for them to relate and express their emotions. For Hayworth and the other organizing members of Artlink, there’s no greater satisfaction than seeing the way that passion and creativity can light up a child’s life.

“Art allows beauty even in the ‘mistakes,’ and those very mistakes can help build confidence within the creator to try it again or embrace the beauty of the mess. It’s important for children to understand that creativity isn’t about rules or following right and wrong—it’s about showing who you are, and that’s what makes their work so wonderful.”

“It’s so rewarding to see the excitement on a child’s face when they have created their very own masterpiece,” agrees Laura Mercier, owner of Horsefeathers art and pottery studio in downtown Clarksville. “We live so much of our daily lives in the online world, but true hands-on art is a great avenue of expression that allows anyone of any age and any level of talent to roll up their sleeves, get messy, and just plain have fun!” To foster creativity and get children more excited about their own talents, Horsefeathers keeps their shop calendar engaged with a wide range of affordably priced art classes open to the public, offering step-by-step instructions and guidance in the basic skills of painting everything from pieces of pottery to canvas and wood. “It’s important that children have a place where they can come and be guided and shown that their interests are worth pursuing,” Mercier continues.

Whatever their age, children are never too young—or old, for that matter—to learn the value of expressing themselves through art. Even messiness can become a masterpiece that you’ll treasure forever. And whether that young talent turns into a hobby or takes them to as-yet unrealized world fame (hey, you never know), you’ll have plenty of one-of-a-kind pieces to show off in your home—and your child will know just how much you love them and want them to shine.

For more information about Horsefeathers, visit www.myhorsefeathers.com or call (931) 802-8282. To learn more about Artlink, visit www.artlinkclarksville.com.

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