ArtLoveMagic fills creative gap in education

Shoka Kamaria-Ford painting at Underground 2010. Photo by Pablo Herrera.

Written By Lindsey Bever

Early last year, Shoka Kamaria-Ford’s art went live.

Working among many professional artists in Dallas, he painted a surrealistic picture of a building crumbling in the sky during ArtLoveMagic’s Underground, the group’s biggest annual art show.

The year before, Kamaria-Ford was a student at a free ArtLoveMagic Kids Workshop.

Kamaria-Ford, 20, now a student at El Centro College, said the workshops give students the opportunity to “get their minds on something positive that will awaken their lives.”

“It taught me to keep on working on your craft, just constantly create,” he said.

ArtLoveMagic, which was founded in 2007 as a volunteer-based community of artists who create art live at events around Dallas, has worked to foster creativity though children’s workshops the last few years. And now, with many schools struggling to supply sufficient art classes — or any at all — these artists are stepping up to fill the creative gap.

Conor Muldoon teaching kids how to spin clay. Photo by Josh Dryk.

“The workshops started as a reaction to having a lot of talent around and then, also, seeing how the school districts were knocking out art classes,” said Michael Lagocki, cofounder of ArtLoveMagic. “The thing about creativity classes is that they teach kids to think metaphorically… These things aren’t little robots. You have to foster intelligent minds.”

About once a year, the organization sets up an art studio, rather than a classroom, with a handful of local artists working to spark the children’s creativity through spray painting, drawing and pottery, among other media. It’s an opportunity for about 60 or 70 disadvantaged students to learn, not from educators, but from real, local artists.

“I know that there are kids in those schools who are bent toward art or bent toward creativity, and they need to be cared for. And then the rest of the kids need to at least get some exposure on a certain level, too,” Lagocki said. “So we put them with people who are bleeding passion for that stuff, people who are devoting their whole life to it.”

In 2009, ArtLoveMagic was recognized by the city of Dallas for its kids’ workshops.

Nicole Rodriguez, director of the kids’ workshops, said, eventually, ArtLoveMagic wants to make a bigger impact by turning the workshops into yearlong mentoring opportunities.

“Oh man, they touch us, too. It’s kind of looking into your future, kind of handing down the arts to the next generation,” said Rodriguez, a special education teacher at Routh Roach Elementary in Garland. “I feel like we’re providing them an outlet for emotions they need to be feeling or working on an artistic talent they might not be aware of.”

Although the children’s workshops are taught by ArtLoveMagic artists, The Deep Ellum Foundation donates the space, and donor Jeanne Blanton pays the artists, Lagocki said.

For Kamaria-Ford, it was a ticket into Underground, a bonding opportunity, he said.

“There was just a sense of unity,” said Kamaria-Ford, who wants to run his own art business one day. “Students and professional artists, we were just all artists sharing the same space. They were just teaching us a lot of things about life, about being an artist.”

Art & Coffee, a monthly open mic and live art show, will be from 7:30-10:30 p.m. today at It’s A Grind, 2901 Indiana Blvd. in Dallas.

The ArtLoveMagic management meeting, which will give the public an opportunity to participate in upcoming events, will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 7 at 2630 E. Commerce St. in Dallas. Bring a couple of coins for the metered parking.

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