SOUTHINGTON - Lori-Ann Ferreira has found a second family in Southington Community Cultural Arts.
The artist drew a crowd of onlookers as she worked on a loom at SoCCA’s center at 93 Main St. Sunday.
The nonprofit organization held a reception opening a new exhibit as members of its All Access group made progress on their own weaving projects. Ferreira is one of about 60 intellectually disabled individuals who are honing their creative talent through the program, which allows members to earn income with their creations.
“It’s a very great place; I love it here,” she said, snipping a piece of blue yarn and expertly winding it through the loom.
Friend and fellow All Access participant Megan Tillman wrapped Ferreira in a tight embrace.
“We all get along very good together,” the Southington resident pointed out. “We all feel comfortable with each other.”
Tillman nodded and smiled at this.
“I love all my friends here,” she said. “And the teachers.”
SoCCA Executive Director Mary DeCroce bounced around the crowd greeting friends, artists and fellow instructors.
“Today is an opportunity for people to see the kind of work we do here,” she said.
The center offers 20 to 30 classes at any given time, for kids as young as age three all the way up to older adults. In addition to painting, sculpting, crocheting and drawing, SoCCA is one of just half-a-dozen groups in Connecticut to offer a full-scale pottery program. Pottery makers work in a 2,000 square foot studio in the basement, which was open to visitors Sunday.
“We sort of own the Central CT pottery bracket at the caliber we offer,” DeCroce pointed out.
Ryan Barron, 8, enjoyed seeing his teachers’ art in the new exhibit.
“This is his first time taking classes and he loves it,” his mom, Amy, said. “He’s very creative.”
Artists have the opportunity to sell their creations in the SoCCA boutique in the same building. They can earn 60 percent of the profit for each sale. This is a particularly attractive pursuit for All Access members like Ferreira and Tillman.
“They’re using the creative process to enhance their lives,” All Access Director Laurie MacClean explained. “It’s all about growth and development. “Events like this are an opportunity to increase their exposure and meet other artisans like themselves. It’s a very rewarding group to work with.”
SoCCA saved the building they operate in, raising $1.2 million to renovate it before officially opening the doors to the public in Sept. 2016.
Since then class attendance, All Access participation and interest has grown tremendously.
“We have been thriving,” DeCroce said. “We’re busier than we ever imagined.”
Southington resident Peggy Thibodeau takes part in a portrait class Thursday mornings. She browsed the shop Sunday and admired fellow artists’ work on the studio walls.
“It’s wonderful to be with people doing the same thing I’m doing and all the support and admiration I get,” Thibodeau said.
SoCCA’s next class begins Feb. 26.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.