“OH MY GOODNESS!”
The petite brunette spun on her heels in surprise.
“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to scare you. I am just taken aback by how wonderful this is!” I laughed.
The space was full of color, light, and a refreshing sense of stepping into a world where judgement did not exist.
She offered me a tour of her remarkable art center. I accepted.
Shelves full of pencils, paint, crayons, fabric, yarn, ceramics, paper, glue, scissors, and all kinds of creative tools lined one wall. In the center of the room stood 2 large tables with chairs.
“These are our workstations.”
I looked past the large work stations, and studied another wall covered with art made by her students. Mixed textures, colors, and shapes resided in each piece. I studied one piece and thought, “This kid felt every moment of working on this.”
Chills ran up my arms as she led me to the back area.
“This is our sensory area.”
The sensory area allows the students to feel sand, water beads, and other texture intriguing materials. I thought of how much my son would enjoy this area.
Eleonora then led me to the back door and opened it.
“Out back, we have this beautiful pond and grass area where we will go to create or just play.”
A large pond boasted a backdrop of a rolling hill full of trees. I envisioned the class laughing and playing in the grassy area beside the pond.
When we stepped back inside the art center, I couldn’t help but think, “This lady has a way with magic.”
In some ways, Eleonora Stein was born to be an artist. Both her mother and father were art curators in Venezuela.
“My friends would often ask, ‘Is this your house or a museum?’”
In 2000, when she was 11, Eleonora and her family courageously moved to a new country: America. They landed in Miami to new cultures and a new language.
“I quickly made friends who spoke the same language, but I knew I had to learn English. Even today, my school friends from Florida are some of my closest friends.”
Growing up in a house filled with art, parents who are art collectors and had friends who were artists provided a foundation for an understanding of creativity. Instead of toys, her family friends would give her art for special occasions (which she only truly appreciated later in life). But, it was on her 15th birthday when she received a special gift from her parents that changed everything.
“I got a 35mm camera for my birthday. Dad told me to grab my camera, and we headed off on a photography adventure. That is when my own love for art really began.”
Eleonora signed up for photography classes in high school. The passion grew. She entered college as a Fine Art major with a concentration in Photography at Florida International University, and graduated in 2011.
“After college, I spent a year or so working in Art Restoration.”
During this time, Eleonora’s destiny revealed itself.
“My 8 year old cousin is a child with special needs. She and I would take walks and make up stories. We spent a lot of time talking and using our minds to create. She was a big part of why I decided to teach.”
Eleonora applied to Columbia University and was accepted into their Master of Arts and Art Education program. After 2 years at Columbia, Eleonora graduated with a head full of knowledge and the enthusiasm to use it.
“I have had remarkable teachers who have guided me. I am so thankful for the experience!”
MOVING TO HUNTSVILLE
Eleonora and her fiance took a leap of faith and moved to Huntsville, Alabama.
“When I googled anything to do with art in the Huntsville area, Lowe Mill kept popping up. One day, my fiancé and I took the dogs to Monte Sano for a walk, and I mentioned we should go check out this Lowe Mill place. Before I left, I had an application in hand. I had to have a space there. It was incredible!”
The complicated acceptance process at Lowe Mill was completed, and in 6 weeks, Eleonora had her space.
“The theme of my thesis at Columbia was ‘How to Open an Art Center in Florida’. I basically wrote my business plan as my thesis. I put it into action in Huntsville.”
“ARTIS STUDIO” opened at Lowe Mill. During this time, she was employed as the art teacher at a private school.
Quickly outgrowing her space at Lowe Mill, Eleonora stepped out of her comfort zone, quit her job at the school, and opened a second studio 4 doors down from Kroger on University Drive.
“The new space opened on May 27, 2017. It was frightening but exciting! I love it here, and I still offer classes at Lowe Mill. It is perfect!”
THE ARTIS STUDIO METHOD
Eleonora’s studio is a process based art center. Her main goal as an art teacher is to help children think creatively.
This process based approach to art opens doors to vivid imaginations. It knocks down the walls of expectations and standardized learning. Instead of performing for an outcome, a child is given the keys to their own creativity.
“The final product is not necessarily important. The process of creating is the main focus of my workshop. I want my students to be curious about creativity and about exploring.
Art is not a core subject like math or science. Instead, the practice of art helps children to think outside the box of rules and formulas. Children need the exercise of freedom to express themselves without the fear of failing. When the final product is no longer important, the process becomes pleasurable and natural. The goal of our art education is to foster creativity that will help the adult individual face and resolve problems in a unique personal way. Problem solving becomes creative and amusing when a student is unconcerned about finished work.
Art is not supposed to put more pressure on a person. It is a release. There is no wrong or right way in this center. There is only creativity.”
And Eleonora is a wonderful guide. Her life, expertise, playful personality, and mind for business fills a void in the lives of our children. No longer do they have to watch a movie to experience the whimsical or the magical. They become the creators of fantasy and the future creative problem solvers of the world.
Artis Studio Website
A blank space where children can open their imagination and explore materials while working their creativity.