Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Releasing the Artist Within

Mud Spun Arts Center Offers Spring Workshops

Most artists would probably admit their art has taken a back seat to living their busy lives; caring for their families and advancing in their careers. Lucky is the artisan who is able to enjoy true freedom in making a living doing what they love. Also fortunate are those who are able to weave their art into their everyday lives. Becky Laliberte, owner of Mud Spun Arts Center, has done just that.

Laliberte, with her builder husband Martin, owns Swift River Commons (formerly known as Village Square Shops) on Daniel Shays Highway in Belchertown. Their property is home to small businesses like Amp Works, Real Fitness and Liberty Nails, to name a few.

Encouraged by her husband, Laliberte was able to carve out a space in their building to house her pottery wheel and kiln.

“Over the years, all of my studio time has been spent in a basement, either at home or in college. So having this new studio space, with its abundance of natural light provides so much inspiration,” said Laliberte.

Since the spring of 2007, Laliberte has been putting her studio to good use and making the necessary plans to open the arts center. The official opening will be this spring, when Mud Spun offers their six-week workshops for adults and teens.

Still in the planning stages for 2008 is an art and music festival to be held on the green behind the property on Daniel Shays Highway. It would include a showing of art from the various instructors, as well as other artists, a sampling of live music presented by Amp Works, and a possible “taste of art” for those who would like to try their hand at making a mini-masterpiece. Interested artists can e-mail photos of their work to Becky at Mud Spun.


Back in high school, Laliberte discovered pottery during art class and has been drawn to it ever since. “I’ve continued to work with clay on and off over the years. It’s a gentle, quiet voice always calling me back,” Laliberte said.

Laliberte earned a Bachelors’ degree in art at Elms College and values art as a staple of the human condition.

“Art is such an important part of our culture and our existence. The earliest recordings we have, as a people, are in art,” Laliberte said.
Her secondary degree, in education, has allowed Laliberte to make a living as a teacher. Although not an art teacher, she taught elementary school in Chicopee for five years.

By offering art classes in her new studio, Laliberte finds a balance that she hasn’t quite accomplished until now.

“The center evolved out my desire to have a place to practice my own art and as a way to bridge my background in art with my background as a teacher,” Laliberte said.


Laliberte’s vision for the center is to provide an opportunity for people to learn something new from instructors who are willing to share art in a fun, friendly and relaxed environment.

“I see the studio as a place to immerse yourself in the process as you explore art,” Laliberte said.

Laliberte hopes to realize her vision as an artist and a teacher by providing the community with an opportunity for art enrichment. By offering workshops, individual instruction and fun get-togethers, participants can explore different forms of the arts.

“I’m so excited about the center,” Laliberte said. “I’ve been very fortunate to find talented artists who share this vision and actually have the time to teach a workshop.”


The following six-week spring workshops will begin in early March and run through late June. Each workshop is offered once a week for six weeks on a specific day, at a set time. Materials and use of tools are included.

Clay Tile Making, instructed by Becky Laliberte, will cover the basics of how to prepare clay, construct slabs, alter surfaces and explore various methods of relief carving. Participants will complete glazed, fired tiles that can be displayed as works of art or installed as functional decorative tiles.

Elements of Drawing, instructed by Jennifer Sinclair, will help sharpen participants’ abilities to decipher different values, identify and represent light sources, and employ perspective. Each class will focus on a different drawing element.

Beaded Jewelry Design, instructed by Deanna Roux, will encourage participants to explore basic beading skills, while designing and creating wearable art out of glass, metal, leather and wire. Each class will focus on a different technique and will yield at least one piece of jewelry.

Woodcarving, instructed by Elton Braithwaite, will touch upon the cultures of Africa and the Caribbean as they relate to woodcarving, while teaching the skills of ancient woodcarving. Braithwaite, a natural story teller, will encourage students to develop patience and concentration as they execute an original relief carving.

Interested participants should contact Mud Spun or go online to register at


This summer, Mud Spun will offer a children’s art camp to give kids a deeper appreciation of art. Students will look at some of the great masters and study the different colors and mediums that were used.

“A lot of towns are having to eliminate art; something that makes for a much more diversified education. This art camp will be an opportunity for people who want more options for their children,” explained Laliberte.

Laliberte encourages artists (or artists in hiding) to listen to their inner voice and come explore their artistic talents.

“I think the world we live in sometimes robs us of our individual passions,” Laliberte said. “It gives me great satisfaction to be able to help another artist rediscover that.”

Reprinted with permission from The Sentinel, Turley Publications.

1 comment:

Nnairda's said...

That's just wonderful to see!