MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Every Tuesday, as part of our Community Changemaker series, we highlight organizations making Memphis better. This week, we caught up with a group that believes in art in wide open spaces.
“We provide access to nature which is a healing resource,” said Jana Wilson, an artist and Executive Director of Arkwings Foundation.
The non-profit located in Frayser sits on 17 acres. They promote mind, body and spirit wellness through arts and nature programs.
“Creative people came up with creative concepts and now we have a house full of galleries– community galleries, an art garden and an art yard that’s evolved organically,” said Wilson.
The art yard is open seven days a week and has interactive stations like a community art garden, where they invite the community to plant whatever they want to grow.
“People have come and planted all kinds of herbs, edible foods. They use them to make soap, textures, teas,” Wilson said.
They have a poetry tree. “People can walk up and open the little house, write their thoughts and clip it from the strings hanging down with clothespins,” she added.
You can even hang out on a tree stump and play music in the interactive station called ‘Rhythms of Nature.’
“It’s filled with gourds you can shake and make a sound, and a little wooden xylophone,” Wilson said. “We just pick up percussion instruments when we find them at yard sales.”
As you walk into the house, built in the 1930s, each room turns into a gallery and highlights local artists. They were gearing up for the Frayser Local Arts Festival while we were there.
We caught up with artist Alexis Gomez who goes by “Sixomo.” Arkwings is giving him his first gallery showing. “This is the place for the arts and creative nature. Anybody can come here. If you’re an artist, you can come here and expose your art.”
Sixomo is using his opportunity to start a dialogue about dyslexia and the misunderstanding that surrounds it. “Dyslexia is not a bad thing. I used to always be embarrassed of being dyslexic. Always referred to as being slow, dumb, and not capable of.”
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That is why Brown Missionary Baptist Church gifted Arkwings $1,000 because when you combine art, nature and opportunity, the possibilities are endless.
A true community changemaker.
For more information about Arkwings, click here.