Inspiring artistic inspiration at the Art Nest in Wassaic

Left to right: Emi Night (Lead Educator), Luna Reynolds (Intern), Jill Winsby-Fein (Education Coordinator).

Natalia Zukerman

Inspiring artistic inspiration at the Art Nest in Wassaic

The Wassaic Art Project offers a free, weekly drop-in art class for kids aged K-12 and their families every Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m. The Art Nest, as it’s called, is a light, airy, welcoming space perched on the floor of the windy old mill building where weekly offerings in a variety of different media lead by professional artists offer children the chance for exploration and expression. Here, children of all ages and their families are invited to immerse themselves in the creative process while fostering community, igniting imaginations, and forging connections.

Emi Night began as the Lead Educator at The Art Nest in January 2024. She studied painting at Indiana University and songwriting at Goddard College in Vermont and is both a visual artist and the lead songwriter and singer in a band called Strawberry Runners.

Night sources her ideas for projects “from all over,” she said. “Sometimes we’ll pull ideas from artists in the shows [at The Wassaic Project] and if there’s something that seems like it would be fun for the kids, we’ll create a project around it.”

Night emphasized that the Art Nest is a drop-in opportunity as opposed to a drop-off class.

“Some families come in that are new in the area and don’t have a lot of parent friends,” Night said. “And they meet people here and develop a network. It’s a really cool space for that, and art is a great way to bring people together.”

Jill Winsby-Fein, Education Coordinator at The Wassaic Project also emphasized the community aspect of the offering. “We ask families to stay together, and that results in family art making that’s actually really special.”

Depending on the day, there can be up to 20 children and their families in the space. “Most days we have five or six kids at a time,” said Night.

The summer exhibition, “Tall Shadows in Short Order,” opens May 18 and the teachers expect an increase in attendance. The Wassaic Project has partnered with the Intern Project through the NECC (North East Community Center) and Luna Reynolds, a student at Webutuck Central School, is “our intern extraordinaire,” said Winsby-Fein.

“The projects I plan are geared toward kids ages four and up,” said Night, “but they are always adaptable to engage younger artists in sensory play and fine motor skill development. The average age range of attendees since I started working here in January has been three to 12. We do have materials and equipment more appropriate for teens like sewing and embroidery machines, jewelry and wire sculpture tools, button/pin-makers, and we’d love to have more teen artists working in the space.”

The program is funded through the Wassaic Project, which relies on grants, individual and donor funding, and artwork sales. Winsby-Fein is currently in the process of applying for various education grants to help fund the program.

“We have kids who walk from nearby and come every week,” she said. “A lot of the feedback I’ve gotten from families is about the community aspect.”

Families seeking to explore the world of art through The Art Nest are invited to drop by on Saturday afternoons. Visit www.wassaicproject.org for more information.

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