Pamplin Media Group – Soulflags brings arts and community together in Oregon City

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The Art Lit Community Center on Main Street focuses on creating opportunities for young people and budding artists.

Tima Carlson and Heather Warren know that art isn’t just paint on canvas, it’s science, math, community and more. That’s why the two women opened the Soulflags Art Lit community center on Main Street in Oregon City.

Soulflags is a non-profit organization focused on creating an opportunity for young people and aspiring artists to be exposed to different artistic styles and artistic media.

Its mission is to promote artistic expression and entrepreneurship through its community workspace.

Warren, the founder of Soulflags, and Carlson, president, were both arts literacy volunteers during their children’s years at Holcomb Elementary School.PHOTO COURTESY: TIMA CARLSON - In the Soulflags studio, an advanced student shows off a stained class creation.

“We were at Holcomb for six years, running the Artist of the Month program.” Carlson said.

“We did it monthly, and at the end of the year we had a huge exposure of all the art projects the students were doing,” Warren said.

It was called MASH night, which stood for math, art, science and health, Carlson noted.

When their kids left elementary school, they found they couldn’t volunteer in middle school or high school, so when the opportunity arose to start Soulflags, they jumped at the chance.

The name Soulflags originated from a project Warren did for his church in 2015.

“Soul” originated from the captain of a ship or plane announcing that there were a number of souls on board.

From there, Warren decided that “Mother Earth is the vessel, and each of the nine billion souls on board should have a flag.”

The church project evolved into putting pockets on a flag that people could put whatever they wanted in that said something about themselves. Then they tied the flags together and displayed them as prayer flags, Warren said.

So when she and Carlson developed the concept of a community arts center, Soulflags seemed like the perfect name.

Community orientation

The Main Street location has a community hall with a stained glass studio, a pottery studio, an art gallery to sell products that are produced on site, and a general area for drop-ins who want to make art .PHOTO COURTESY: TIMA CARLSON - A boy shows off his work from the Pour Painting class at Soulflags.

The welcome space is open during certain hours and people can come in and make art for free using a limited amount of materials. If they want to do pottery or stained glass, they have to pay a fee, the two women noted.

Additionally, artists come weekly to teach different art forms; recent workshops have focused on photography, comics and fabric art, such as spinning, felting and weaving.

Last summer, Soulflags held summer camps, which Warren called “phenomenal.”

Carlson and Warren also focus on artistic literacy when educating students about a particular artist, using science, math, and geography.

“We talk about where artists come from and what kind of skills they had. With DaVinci they learn to build bridges and draw upside down, and with MC Escher it’s about the horizon and dimensions,” Carlson said.

“And the anatomy,” Warren added.

Volunteers

Everyone at Soulflags volunteers, the two women said, noting that they are always looking for more help. They added that they do background checks on every volunteer.

“You don’t have to have a talent; we’ll provide you with materials, videos and a program,” Carlson said.

She taught pottery, stained glass and belly dancing, while Warren taught yoga and photography.

“We also have a male volunteer named James McDonough, who teaches painting, chi gong and drumming,” Warren said.

“He’s a wonderful male role model,” Carlson said.

Art sessions cost between $90 and $200, but scholarships are available, Carlson said, noting that if parents volunteer, their children can attend for free. They also welcome donations to help cover the cost of art supplies, they said.

Soulflags received grants from local arts organizations, and Warren and Carlson said they were grateful for “two years of incredible success”.

But, they also said they needed more support from the community, including cash donations and help with grant writing.

Give a hand

Warren noted that Soulflags is also exploring ways to reach out to the wider community.

“We do live events and team building activities for businesses and other nonprofits. We always work with the community,” she said.

Carlson added that several local school districts have requested materials from Soulflags, and the two women have set up pricing options.

“We can also provide videos for teachers, who can watch the videos and then teach the projects,” Carlson said.PHOTO COURTESY: ELIZABETH CARLSON - Students learned to use the potter's wheel at Soulflags summer camp.

Recently, Soulflags received a donation of Halloween-themed animatronics, so the two women are planning a haunted house fundraiser for October 22, 23, 29, and 30, when there’s a small fee. entry each evening.

They are also planning a holiday market in November.

Carlson added, “We love art and we love Soulflags, we try to give the community the opportunity to explore art in all its forms.”

Raise the flag!

What: Soulflags Art Lit Community Center is a non-profit organization that aims to create an opportunity for young people and aspiring artists to be exposed to different art styles and art media.

Where: 504 Main Street, Oregon City

Upcoming: Visit the Soulflags Haunted House Fundraiser from 6-8 p.m. October 22, 23, 29, and 30

Details: To volunteer, donate, or learn more about this organization, visit soulflags.org


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