Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Coloring Cabarete Through the Arts

Creatividad en Pote“The kids actually call me ‘Miss Nice,’” shares Emma Nice Grullon Balaguer, interior designer, illustrator of children’s books, and founder of Creatividad en Pote. Indeed, the name could describe Balaguer’s heartfelt, proactive movement to color young lives through creativity. The Dominican-born visionary has established a multi-cultural school for the arts, with a side of science, using recycled, organic materials.

“There’s a lot of focus on nature,” says Miss Nice, of art supplies and practices. “I want to give the kids natural tools to express their creativity,” she explains. “We try to open consciousness about all living things—the importance of taking care of a bee, why not to rip up a flower…through eco-friendly practices, I hope to open the imagination.”

Located upstairs from Bead It, next to Fresh Fresh, Balaguer’s Creatividad en Pote offers classes for kids of all ages and economic backgrounds. “There are a lot of sports here, but not a lot of arts programs,” she observes.

The idea is to bring a different perspective to the kids from low resource communities. While living in Santa Domingo, Balaguer created Para El Campo con Creatividad en Pote and fostered a relationship with Casa Hogar Dona Chucha Home for Girls, a place for young girls whose parents can no longer care for them. Through her community outreach efforts, Balaguer’s classes enriched many young lives (while only girls reside at Dona Chucha, both girls and boys benefitted from daytime arts classes.)

Creatividad en Pote Creatividad en Pote

Now in Cabarete, she continues her commitment to arts education with Creatividad en Pote, working with various foundations that serve the community.

Classes for different ages are held on different days, with students ranging from 3 to 13, and the 90-minute sessions allow plenty of time for trial and error. “The kids have 15 minutes to experiment, then a hands-on lesson. We take a quick break to cool off,” she explains, with a smile, “and then they have time to be creative on their own, and explore.”

Having illustrated children’s books like “The Boogie Man” and “The Secret of Smiling,” both published in New York, and with a background in interior design, Balaguer draws from a broad palette when planning upcoming classes. She also recruits guest teachers to do workshops, including healthy conscious eating, yoga, macramé, and guitar. With a constant group of people willing to share various areas of expertise, classes remain both dynamic and diverse. “Better that it’s not only my brain all the time!” declares Balaguer.

Creatividad en Pote Creatividad en Pote

In addition to gratis community outreach programs, Creatividad en Pote’s classes include students whose families seek a well-rounded education for their children—like studying the solar system, then recreating the skies above.

In this particular workshop, kids learn the difference between stars and planets. Then science becomes art, as students create whole new galaxies using newspaper bowls, glue, and their imaginations. “I ask them to create not only those they see pictures, but how they might imagine their very own,” says Balaguer.

Fusing art with nature, and nature with art, speaks to Balaguer’s strong connection to the environment— the very thing that brought her to lush Cabarete.

Creatividad en Pote Creatividad en Pote

“I moved here because the ocean is very healing, and I saw that there are a lot of nice people living in this area, with nice intentions, and living with nature—there are a lot of international people here, and I work with them to try and educate locals about recycling, natural materials, taking care of our environment. Because I’m Dominican too, I can be a sort of liaison,” she explains.

Turning to dreams to resolutions, just in time for the New Year, Creatividad en Pote is excited about 2016’s first art project. Using bamboo and other organic materials, the kids will construct their very own dreamcatchers.

“Dreamcatchers are one of my passions,” says Balaguer, with a smile. “Listen to your dreams, follow your dreams.”

Creatividad en Pote Creatividad en Pote

Creatividad en Pote Facebook page

Photo credit Creatividad en Pote, copyright 2016

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