May 31, 2022
Back in 2012, I was running a summer art camp for the local arts non-profit, Engine. As we were drawing sidewalk chalk art with the kids, I remember looking up, seeing a flyer and being encouraged by then director Tammy Ackerman.
In that moment, I also realized that I wanted to provide others with a creative space. So that year, I started Common Roots Studio as an artist collective with a few friends in Biddeford. Today, our studio offers affordable art and music classes to all ages and gives artists a place to create, display and sell their work.
A few years ago, I traveled across the country with some friends in a FedEx truck that we converted into a sustainable home. We made connections with environmental groups and learned about the sustainability movement. I returned back to Maine feeling really inspired.
Since then, I have developed Sweetser’s first art program in over 7 years and recently decided to renovate and convert a small bus into a mobile community arts vehicle. The bus can be hired for events and those proceeds (along with sponsorships) will allow us to donate our time to the ultimate mission of giving back to the community.
The goal is to transport art and “unfold” at local events to provide an immersive arts experience for youth. At each stop, we will unfold tables on each side of the bus and offer different mediums of art for children and their families to participate with.
One side may be for kids to draw or paint, while the other may be dedicated to building things or writing stories. We also plan to add a small deck off the back of the bus so kids can put on puppet shows or play music with donated instruments.
As a special needs art teacher, and having worked with the community alongside Jamie Silvestri of the “Art Van” program, it’s been easy to see just how impactful creativity can be for a child.
The goal is to help all children realize their artistic potential and show them how art can speak to/for them. We want to be available for children and families who may not otherwise have the resources to participate in such artistic expression.
Not only are we helping children improve their communication, concentration and emotional literacy, but we are also giving children and their parents an opportunity to bond in ways they may not have before. By bringing the arts directly to the community, this project will provide art resources to families that may not otherwise be able to access them.
— Nick Blunier, Owner of Common Roots Studio in Biddeford Maine