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our journey

These days, we are working hard to sustain the Makerspace and its’ impact, expand our reach to the Lawrence community at large, and link the community to Phoenix and vice-versa. Read more about our journey below.

2023

a growth spurt

La House continues to deepen its support of our community partners in Lawrence and beyond, housing Rainbow Alianza and directly supporting their mission to create events and safe spaces that nurture and strengthen the QT/TLGBQ+ community in Lawrence. We’re proud to say that this was the biggest year for Rainbow Alianza since its' inception.

At the Makerspace, we open up new avenues for exploration and self-expression by offering a new Focus Group for our students, led by our very own Y-Bình Nguyen: Ceramics! Our students loved getting to work with this medium alongside the other offerings at the Space. We close out the Spring semester with a photovoice collaboration with Elevated Thought — a meditation on “healing, transformation, and growth”, with students artistically intervening and transforming portraits of themselves.

Over the summer, construction begins on an expansion of the Makerspace — giving us more square footage to tuft, paint, and sew, more storage space, as well as a new Sound Studio. This comes as an answer to much student advocacy, and was, of course, an immediate hit with students.

Fabrication Friday begins as a monthly pilot program to test out something that had always been part of the original vision of the Makerspace — opening the Space up to the Lawrence community at-large. We are blown away by the community’s response, affirming our belief in accessible spaces for creativity.

a growth spurt

2022

a practice of freedom

We start the fall of 2022 with a couple large-scale collaborative art projects. Our students are thrilled to work alongside Colombian street artist Luisa Cárdenas of Piranhas Crew through every step of the process. Together, we ideate, conceptualize, sketch and lay down paint, culminating in one mural celebrating love as a revolutionary practice of freedom.

When Phoenix Academy sponsors a number of students and staff to attend the March for our Lives in DC 2022 to protest gun violence in schools, we support our students through using our laser-cutter and spray paint to make protest signage.

We spend this year hard at work alongside our students, continuing to tweak and tinker with our model and methodologies. We continue to diversify the offerings at our Makerspace, launching two Focus Groups for our students — Branding and Tufting. The focus groups are a huge hit with students, Tufting becomes a favorite of many in the space, and the Branding course spurs entire DIY fashion lines.

This year we also have the opportunity to have a pair of students become student interns at the Makerspace through MassHire to assist operationally and help shape our programming.

a practice of freedom

2021

a creative catalyst

La House finds its' new home at Phoenix Academy Lawrence. We officially say goodbye to the studio on Island St and wholly center our efforts into a new Makerspace for the school community at Phoenix Lawrence. Our collaboration with the school has been one of symbiotic growth, and we are so grateful to be in continued partnership with them; the youth at Phoenix inspire and challenge us to continually polish and refine our work at the Makerspace and across the city.

Our 2021 is spent continuing to build-out the Makerspace, co-creating a curriculum and culture for the Makerspace with the youth at the school, and dreaming about opening the space up to the city at large.

a creative catalyst

2020

a transitional time

We don’t like to talk about this year. Just kidding! It was a difficult transitional time for everyone, to say the least. Halfway through the year, while we are in full gear with our programming across different schools in Lawrence, the Covid-19 pandemic forces us to pivot to virtual offerings —we begin doing art challenges on Instagram to engage our follower-base creatively while the country was on lockdown. We also begin a virtual program at Phoenix Academy Lawrence, “Journal Away 2020” — we sent them boxes full of art supplies and met once a week to converse, create, and commiserate with each other about our experiences with the Covid-19 pandemic. Ultimately, the time we had at home helped us reconfigure ourselves individually and as an organization — leading to a renewed vision and a new sense of hope for our mission.

a transitional time

2019

nurturing growth

This a year in which we strengthen and nurture our community partnerships and our presence in the arts and culture scene in Lawrence — we continue to support Rainbow Alianza in their efforts to highlight and make space for the QT/TLGBQ+ community in Lawrence, as well as furthering our partnerships with youth literacy organization Andover Bread Loaf, and arts and social justice organization Elevated Thought.

2019 is also our last full year offering art therapy programming for Lawrence Public Schools, as in the spring of next year, the Covid-19 pandemic forces us to pivot towards virtual offerings for our community.

nurturing growth

2018

tending to the phoenix

In 2018 we find ourselves in deep collaboration with the NAN project, an organization that uses a peer-to-peer model to raise mental health awareness and work towards suicide prevention. La House has partnered with the NAN project to provide creative experiences for their participants, as well as art therapy supports.

After the tragic events of the 2018 September gas explosions, in which the school community at Phoenix Academy Lawrence suddenly lost a member to the disaster, and many were left in temporary housing for weeks/months while officials secured the situation, the NAN project made it possible for La House to set up an art therapy studio for Phoenix Academy Lawrence in order for students and the school community to come together and process their trauma and use their creativity as a means to heal, transform, and grow. This work lays the foundation for our later project — The Phoenix Makerspace.

tending to the phoenix

2017

art as resistance

La House continues to develop its methodology and pedagogical framework, finding inspiration in emergent strategy and popular education. We further nurture our partnership with Lawrence Public Schools and find ourselves supporting grassroots movements in the city and the state — holding pop-up sign-making workshops prior to demonstrations and protests near and dear to our hearts — Women’s March (2016-2018), UN DÍA SIN INMIGRANTES (2017), LHS Walk-out Against Gun Violence (2018)...

art as resistance

2016

building community

La House expands programming to serve the Arlington and Bruce middle schools as well as after-school programs like Manos Felices. This is also the year that we open our new studio at 50 Island St., forming part of the artist community there. This studio became our home-base in between projects and our public hours supported community events like Canal Open Studios.

In the summer of 2016, we host our first Artist Residency, bringing the Colombian street-art collective Piranhas Crew to the city of Lawrence to beautify, activate, and feminize the local Misserville Skatepark as part of their international arts-activism platform, GIRLS TO THE FRONT.

building community

2015

finding our footing

Our collaboration with the Guillemette school strongly affirms our belief that a therapeutic approach to arts education would aptly serve the social-emotional needs of Lawrence’s youth. We are able to support the Guillemette school with their enrichment programming from 2015 until March of 2020 when the Covid pandemic forces us to pivot to virtual offerings.

Accessibility being one of our core values at La House, 2015 is also the year in which we develop our pop-up art studio model that allows us to meet the community where they are at, setting up art studios at the common parks, cafes, libraries and other schools. For more information on our past and present community partnerships, visit our Collaborations + Clients page.

finding our footing

2014

an emergent strategy

In the summer of 2014, La House is initially envisioned as a space to engage young people through art, opening our first studio thanks to the support of the Lawrence Youth Team and the generosity of the owners of the building at 530 Broadway St. This is where we draft our first expressive arts curriculum for youth served by the Family Resources Center and the Arlington Community Trabajando (both organizations now defunct).

Our summer programs leads to art therapy workshops at the Guilmette middle school in the fall. Then in 2015, we’re invited to become an enrichment partner with Lawrence Public Schools.
Eventually we give up our studio at Broadway St. and find ourselves running expressive arts programming for Lawrence youth out of the trunks of our cars etc until we land at our next studio at Island St.

an emergent strategy
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