Education Spotlight – Scarlett Larson, the Founder of Parcel Arts!

Today I have a special treat for everyone! One of my friends started her own textile education business and I just love it! I’m so grateful there are programs like this to get children and adults into fiber arts! Today we get to check in with a very lovely human being! One of my favorite humans, the very talented Scarlett, founder of Parcel Arts!

  • I haven’t seen you since pre-pandemic times. Tell me what you’ve been up to this past year…
    • The past year has been a wild ride! In June of 2020 I left a full-time position and started Parcel Arts. I’ve spent my spare time playing with my toddler, gardening, running to stay sane, and I’ve somehow made it through the pandemic without adopting a pet. (I’ve had to remind myself that two dogs are plenty!)
  • Well, let’s start with a bit of background for the readers. Tell us a bit about yourself.
     
    • Sure! I was born and raised in the Twin Cities and I attended Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) and received a BFA in sculpture. Soon after graduating my partner and I moved to New York City.

      We lived in Brooklyn and while exploring the neighborhood I found the Textile Arts Center (TAC), which was located a few blocks away from our apartment. Towards the end of my BFA I leaned heavily into textiles, so I went inside and inquired about volunteer opportunities. I joined their after-school classes and within a couple months they asked if I would be interested in teaching a weaving class for youth. I didn’t know how to weave, so I quickly picked up a few books and dove in. When the class was complete, they asked if I would start managing classes at their Manhattan location and directing their youth camps that were hosted on campus at NYU. It was such a great experience and I have such wonderful memories of the kids creating knitted ropes that extended all the way across Washington Square Park. I worked at TAC until we moved back to Minneapolis.

    • After settling back into Minnesota life, I became an instructor at a Waldorf School while teaching at numerous art institutions around the Twin Cities. After about a year I started as a contractor developing programs at Textile Center in Minneapolis and soon after I jumped on board full-time as their Youth Education Associate. I spent five years at Textile Center running numerous youth and outreach programs until I left and started Parcel Arts.
  • So you’ve always been invested in education?
    • In my early teens, my mother passed away from breast cancer. So I was 13, trying to grapple with life’s great questions; meanwhile my peers were enjoying teenage freedom. My new adult lens led me to have a less than enjoyable high-school experience–except for my time spent in the art room. That was the only place where I felt safe. (It feels odd to say that, but that’s how I felt.)

      Luckily, I had an amazing art teacher named Mr. Nitzberg who was highly involved in numerous arts communities. He would frequently recommend and share opportunities for his students to partake in. I remember him telling me about how I could take art courses at a community college and MCAD full-time during my senior year. Ditching out of my senior year of high school and attending art school seemed like a no-brainer, so I worked my tail off to get into the programs. When I started courses at the two colleges, I felt like a huge weight had been taken off my shoulders. I finally was working on things that I was interested in, with peers that felt like “my people”.
      While at MCAD I was exposed to so many different art forms and had my first taste of teaching. I was so inspired by youth students who would create without hesitation. The subjects and color combinations they came up with were spectacular. I remember just sitting there in awe at their creations when they said that they’ve never painted before. I think this is what drove me into arts programming. The arts are constantly being cut from city and school budgets, especially where it’s most needed. I want to do my part in ensuring access to underserved communities who may not receive the same opportunities.
  • When did you start Parcel Arts, and what motivated you to start it?
    • There were many motivating factors in starting Parcel Arts but I finally made the leap and started the LLC in June of 2020.

      First and foremost, I have always been in love with creating authentic art-making experiences. I wanted to create an accessible and safe place for participants to make mistakes and grow. I also wanted to facilitate dedicated time where people could think about who they are as individuals, self-process ideas, learn new skills, and then share their developments and creations with others. This lead me to think critically about the programs I’ve been involved in over the years, what worked well, what was unnecessary, how to overcome or avoid barriers, and how to create a connection amongst participants—even in a virtual classroom. That last part is the most important; you cannot have successful programming without meaningful connection.

      Supporting teaching artists is critical to the mission of Parcel Arts. I’ve worked with thousands of incredibly talented artists over the years and I wanted to continue to support them and their work, even during the pandemic. I know so many artists who aren’t just masters at their technique but spectacular community facilitators. I wanted to create opportunities for them and compensate them with fair wages for their work. (We pay over double the average teaching artist rate in Minnesota.)

      This all led to creating the hybrid program model that is Parcel Arts. I also need to credit my sister-in-law, Marcy, who is an attorney and offered to draft all the paperwork pro-bono. (I still paid her in chocolate.)
  • Do you operate all over the Twin Cities metro? What markets are you in?
    • Yes, we offer classes all over the state of Minnesota and beyond thanks to virtual learning models. We work with independent groups, organizations, civic amenities, and companies—virtually anyone who has an established group of individuals who are seeking an art-making experience.
  • What are the types of classes you offer?
    • I work with a team of talented artists who teach everything from fiber art to comic drawing. Our classes are developed based on current art trends, the skills and interests of instructors, and specific requests from groups.
  • How does someone go about hosting one of your classes?
    • Our website is the easiest way to learn more about our classes, you can visit us at www.parcelarts.com.
  • What’s the endgame for you here? What do you want to see Parcel Arts doing in 5 years from now? 10 years from now? 
    • I have many goals and dreams for Parcel Arts. First and foremost, I want to continue to offer comprehensive art experiences that exceed the expectations of our partners and students. I am constantly assessing and updating our model, studying art trends and techniques, and chatting with our teaching artists about ideas. I dream about a perfect model, but that is constantly evolving as the needs of our partners and students change over time.

      In the next year or two I would love to start a mentorship program. I graduated from college during the 2007 recession, so I know how difficult it can be to find your grounding. It would be a training program where emerging teaching artists would work with established teaching artists to get hands-on experience and guidance of leading an arts classroom.

      It would be amazing, in the far future, to develop a line of art materials. I’m constantly sourcing materials for Parcel Arts, my personal practice, and for my child. I geek out on it a bit, and my child who is 3-years-old is an excellent quality tester.
  • So one of the models I was working with on my latest art project asked me this question, and I found it rather thought provoking. If you got a 20,000 dollar grant for Parcel Arts what would you do with it? Where would you take Parcel Arts?
    • First, I’d buy a new desk chair. My current one is falling apart but I’m having a hard time giving it up. (I found it in a film prop shop in NYC and it’s bright orange.) Then I would find a grant writer to support a few community initiatives I have in mind. After that I’d sock away the rest until I could afford a marketing specialist to help me scream our mission and programs from the rooftops.  

To contact Scarlett at Parcel Arts check out the links below!
Website: www.parcelarts.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/parcelarts/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ParcelArts/

Here are some photos of the classes Parcel Arts has to offer!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: