At last! An Art Retreat for Women

At last! An Art Retreat for Women
Follow Lydia Katherine on Twitter @Lkaton10

By Lydia Katherine

The Chicago Urban Art Retreat Center (CUARC) has a mission to bring people together in a creative environment that offers socially impacting art, positive programs, creative workshops, and, a retreat for women!

Founder and curator Dianna Long tells Six Brown Chicks, “The Urban Art Retreat was founded in Portland, Oregon in 1984. It traveled to Chicago in 1991, and began as a temporary residence for single women.  I got the idea because I used to travel around the country to give talks and showcase art by women artists.”

Dianna Long of the Urban Art Retreat, and stunning artwork from their site, www.UrbanArtRetreat.com.

Dianna Long of the Urban Art Retreat, and stunning artwork from their site, www.UrbanArtRetreat.com.

To kick off Chicago Fashion Week, we’ve connected with Long, a fellow participant in the upcoming Fashion and Arts Humanity Fete Awards. For more info, visit www.fahfawards.org.

Six Brown Chicks: How does art education create a better future for women?

Dianna Long: Art is expression using visual means; education is the sharing of information. Discussion and art-making are the basic methodologies of Chicago Urban Art Retreat Center, in all of its programs.

Women can only benefit from expressing themselves and sharing information.

By creating art and images, sharing and discussing the art together, women can learn about themselves, about each other, about their dreams, inner selves, about their culture, and about what life means to them.

How do your art retreat influence positive development in Chicago neighborhoods?

I can see the change in each neighborhood where we have been located.  

Some people who live in disenfranchised neighborhoods may suffer from depression...to enact change, in order to participate in new beginnings, to be a part of the solution is very difficult if not impossible when depression is a part of one's life. 

So, to offer stress reduction, relaxation skills, art therapy, talk groups, support groups and discussion groups in general are important to me; and to deliver information on affordable and nearby resources is crucial.

What is the most rewarding experience that you’ve had with Chicago Urban Art Retreat Center?

Of course it is hard to limit to one rewarding experience; there have been many.  

The ability to include so much flexibility within the Retreat has often allowed me to do things that were very important to me and really helped someone at the same time.

Of course all the artists whom I have helped with their careers are very satisfying for me. I remember one in particular; she had come into the gallery several times. I remember talking with her and asking her if she was an artist. She said, “Oh no, I am just a housewife." She said she liked to dabble in art; I encouraged her confidence and she began to appreciate her own art. She kept making art and soon enough, she brought art into the gallery. I began showing her art, and the rest is history. Today she is a pretty well-known artist in some circles and is doing very well.

What is the most important advice you can share about being an entrepreneur?

Do something you like and you believe in, because it is all encompassing; entrepreneurship takes up your whole life. So make it the center and expect that to be the way it is.

Do you wish to expand The Chicago Urban Art Retreat Center to other cities?

I especially enjoyed staying at the homes of women artists in the cities and towns I visited. I felt it was safer and more comfortable and they knew more about the kinds of things I was interested in seeing or visiting while in was in their homes.

It really could be located anywhere with the idea of "A Room of Her Own" for women who need to "get away!" At one point I gave women lessons about how to open a women’s residence of their own as a way to use their home as an asset. This is one way I started. I toyed with the idea of having a chain of places around the country, but my preference for the simple life won over.

To learn more about CURAC, visit them online: http://www.urbanartretreat.com.

Lydia Katherine believes in living for the moment, loving every moment, laughing at past moments and building greater moments! Follow her on Twitter: @Lkaton10

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