By ALEC CLAYTON

On a Wednesday morning in November, over 20 people gather around two long tables in downtown Olympia’s Hummingbird Studio. They’re students at The Evergreen State College, or they’re from the Transitions Program of Olympia School District, which provides opportunities to envision the potential for post-secondary education. As the Transitions website puts it, the latter program points toward “meaningful employment through volunteerism, independent living and community involvement.”

Hummingbird staff members Randi Miller and Evangelina Poulos welcome everyone. Poulous reminds guests of the rules: First, be kind in wants and actions. Second, respect others’ work and personal space. Third, share and conserve Hummingbird materials; and fourth, have fun. Next, she asks guests to introduce themselves and say how they’re feeling. She says today’s theme is the letter A. “Say something that starts with A.”

Three or four say their mother’s name begins with A. One says the word apple. Another says, “a rhinoceros.”



A program of Kokua Services, Hummingbird Studio is a free, inclusive community art program that welcomes artists of all ages and abilities. Participants include individuals with disabilities, seniors, college and high school students, professional artists, artists’ family members and paid caregivers. “We provide the time, encouragement and a safe space to foster the creative process and human connection,” Miller says. The studio doesn’t criticize or instruct. Rather, it provides space and art materials to create in a non-judgmental atmosphere. “We believe that art belongs to everyone,” Miller adds, “and is essential to the health and vibrancy of the entire community.”

Hummingbird Studio was launched in September 2015 and moved to the location adjacent to Gallery Boom in January of 2019. Collage materials, markers, paper, watercolors and other art supplies are donated. Participants are encouraged to contribute $5 per session. There are three 90-minute sessions every Tuesday and Wednesday, supporting between 80 and 100 artists each week.

Poulos says, “Hummingbird Studio has taught me the importance of community and the role art plays in bringing people together. Our studio hosts artists from all walks of life, and seeing relationships blossom over artistic collaboration is deeply inspiring. Watching artists express themselves and grow confident has also shown me the empowering nature of art. Each session teaches me something new, and I’m honored to work in a space that values inclusion and judgement-free self-expression.”


WHAT



Hummingbird Studio

WHEN

10-11:30 a.m., 12:30-2 p.m., 2:30-4 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday

WHERE

514 Adams St. SE, Olympia

HOW MUCH

$5 suggested donation

LEARN MORE

Kokuaservices.org

360-705-4665 ext. 120