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Share art skills, promote change

by Archives November 20, 2007

Want to learn how to make trashy underground cartoons? Need a silkscreen studio? How about a darkroom? Organizers at Ste. Emilie SkillShare, a small activist center in Saint Henri, are inviting all queer people and people of color to use their facilities in order to create art in the “spirit of revolution.”
“It’s super affordable and if people don’t know how to do it, we’ll teach them,” said Dan Mach, one of the organizers of the art center, as he leaned back on an old large brown sofa chair in the living room of the art house.
Last year, a group of about ten artists and activists pooled their money, rented an 8-room, two-floor apartment, converted all the rooms into studios and called it The Ste. Emilie SkillShare.
The idea behind it was to promote artistic expression and self-representation for people of color and queer people. Organizers wanted a place to hang out, share their skills, and create art that can influence social change.
“There weren’t any places in the neighborhood for queer people or people of color to make art around activism,” said Mach. “There wasn’t even a place for us to meet, so we knew that there was definitely a need here. It was a hit from day one.”
Throughout the week, members and some guests go to the center to hang out and do some work. However Saturday, workshops and studios are open to the public from 1 to 6 p.m.
Tutorials in drawing, stamp making, underground cartoon drawing, zine making and much more are offered by local artists for a small fee.
Visitors also have access to a silkscreen studio, a black and white photography darkroom, sewing machines, craft supplies and a zine library for a donation.
“It’s more of a donation thing with the idea that people will donate enough to pay for the cost,” said Concordia student, Tasha Zamudin, another one of the ten organizers of Ste. Emilie SkillShare. “It all depends, of course, if people will make money off of it or not. If people use our silkscreening room to make a profit, they should donate a little more,” she said.
Mach explained that Ste. Emilie SkillShare is about the spirit of communal cooperation, not about profit. They look at ways to offer as much as possible at an affordable price.
“We now have the Fleshtival,” he said. “Somebody from the neighborhood had suggested there be a drawing workshop here because it’s close by and everywhere else is super expensive.
“So we put a call out for a volunteer and Texta, a local celebrity, agreed to host a nude drawing workshop.”
As he spoke, there was a knock on the door and a tall man with glasses and a green patterned handkerchief around his head walked in.
“I saw the sign outside,” he said. “I was just wondering what it’s about. I live in the neighborhood and I have some skills.

Ste. Emilie SkillShare is located on 3942 Ste.Emilie, Saint Henri. Visit them online at steemilieskillshare.com.

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