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Art Lit Community Center on Main Street focuses on creating opportunities for youth and aspiring artists.

Tima Carlson and Heather Warren know that art isn't just paint on canvas — it is also science and math and community and a whole lot more. That is why the two women have opened Soulflags Art Lit Community Center on Main Street in Oregon City.COURTESY PHOTO: TIMA CARLSON - Two girls participate in a painting class during Teen Night at Soulflags.

Soulflags is a nonprofit organization focused on creating an opportunity for youth and aspiring artists to be exposed to different art styles and art media.

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

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

"We were at Holcomb for six years, continuing the artist of the month program." Carlson said.

"We did it every month, and at the end of the year we had a huge exhibit of all the art projects the students did," Warren said.

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

When their children left elementary school, they found that they couldn't volunteer at the middle school or high school, so when the opportunity came up to start Soulflags, they jumped at it.

The name Soulflags came about from a project that Warren did for her church in 2015.

"Soul" arose from the captain of a ship or plane announcing that there were a certain number of souls on board.

From that, 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 in which people could put whatever they wanted that said something about themselves. Then they linked the flags together and displayed them like prayer flags, Warren said.

So, when she and Carlson developed the concept for a community-based art center, Soulflags seemed like the perfect name.

Community focus

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

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

In addition, artists come in weekly to teach different forms of art; recent workshops have featured photography, cartooning and fabric art, like spinning, felting and weaving.

This past summer, Soulflags hosted summer camps, which Warren described as "phenomenal."

Carlson and Warren also focus on art literacy when they educate students about a particular artist, using science, math and geography.

"We talk about where the artists came from and what type of skill they had. With DaVinci they learn about bridge building and drawing upside down, and with M.C. Escher, it is about the horizon and dimensions," Carlson said.

"And anatomy," Warren added.

Volunteers

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

"You don't have to have a talent; we will provide you with materials, videos and a syllabus," Carlson said.

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

"We also have a male volunteer named James McDonough, who teaches painting, chi gong and percussion," Warren said.

"He is a wonderful male role model," Carlson said.

With art classes on average ranging from $90 to $200, Soulflags Art Community Center is an alternative with reduced pricing and opportunities for scholarships/volunteering for youth and adults. They also welcome donations to help defray the cost of art supplies, they said.

Soulflags has received grants from local arts organizations, and Warren and Carlson said they are grateful for "two years of amazing success."

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

Reaching out

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

"We do live events and team-building activities for companies and other nonprofits. We are always working with the community," she said.

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

"We also can provide videos to the teachers, who can watch the videos and then teach the projects," Carlson said.COURTESY PHOTO: ELIZABETH CARLSON - Students learned to use the potters wheel at Soulflags Summer Camp.

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

They are also planning a holiday market in November.

Carlson added, "We love art and we love Soulflags, we are trying to give the community an opportunity to explore art in all its forms."

Raise the flag!

What: Soulflags Art Lit Community Center is a nonprofit organization focused on creating an opportunity for youth and aspiring artists to be exposed to different art styles and art media.

Where: 504 Main St., Oregon City

Coming up: Visit the Soulflags haunted-house fundraiser from 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 22, 23, 29 and 30

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


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