Foundry Art Centre and MADE Makerspace Partnership Strengthens STL Creative Community
By: Paul Langdon
Creative St. Louisans are likely to be quite familiar with the Foundry Art Centre and MADE Makerspace. Both organizations are pillars of the local creative community, offering artisans workspaces, resources, and ways to connect with other creative individuals.
When one enters MADE the first thing likely to catch their eye is the vast quantity of tools and machines in their workspaces. Their members are offered training on and access to everything from sewing machines and laser cutters to metal lathes and 3D printers.
“It’s really difficult as a maker, or an artist, designer, or entrepreneur to go out and buy your own machines, to find space for it, to be able to learn how to use it yourself,” explains MADE’s Director of Membership Emily Elhoffer. “We have a ton of creative people here. Folks that want to come in and learn how to make the project that they want to make. Without those resources those projects don’t get made, design doesn’t happen, creativity doesn’t happen, and without creativity we can’t have a culture here. That is the importance of creative spaces, so that culture can exist on a local level.”
The Foundry Art Centre, in St. Charles, Missouri, is also home to a variety of creative spaces. The artists’ studios lining the mezzanine level of the building feature open glass fronts, letting visitors witness and speak with artists as they create.
“People can come in and visit the space and go through and see the artists working” the Foundry’s Executive Director Sean Fitzgibbons states. “It is a great back and forth between the artists and the community.” Many of the artists even teach classes in these studios, creating a whole other avenue of community enrichment.
But the Foundry’s most obvious contribution to the region is its excellent gallery space, which in recent months has hosted everything from a collection of Chinese Folk Art from the Shaanxi Region to its current offerings of three solo exhibitions by renowned photographers Destiny Mata, David Johnson, and Bridget Murphy Milligan, which will remain on show through August 22, 2021 at the Foundry.
It was in January of 2021 when the Foundry Art Centre first approached MADE Makerspace about potentially compiling an exhibit of their members’ work to be displayed in the Foundry’s gallery. That show would eventually run from March 12 to May 21, 2021 and be the first milestone in their collaborative partnership.
“When we had MADE @ The Foundry there were so many different types of artworks from paintings to tables to the Growmotion grow light,” recalls Fitzgibbons. “It was a lot of fun for our team to sit down and look through everything that they had and really showcase some amazing objects.” (Visit www.hecmedia.org to see a full video story about this past exhibit.)
The next step in this collaboration is currently on show at MADE Makerspace. It’s an exhibition entitled Foundry Art Centre @ MADE and it features artwork from all of the studio artists at the Foundry. “Made is really proud to be exhibiting this exhibition with the Foundry Art Centre because we both believe in creating spaces for creativity,” says Elhoffer. “We both believe in creating spaces for artists to thrive, co-create, and to have studio spaces and a community that they can access.”
This exhibit will remain on view through August 11, 2021 at Made Makerspace in the Delmar Maker District.
It’s important to note that these two exhibits aren’t all these organizations have done together. On June 19th the Foundry hosted their inaugural Block Party, a free community event centered around a form of printmaking using a steamroller. But in order to execute such a largescale project they needed giant woodblocks with images cut into them to use as the printing blocks. So they took designs by local artist to MADE and used their CNC router, a computer-controlled cutting machine, to carve the designs into enormous wooden blocks.
The partnership between MADE Makerspace and the Foundry Art Centre has provided area artists and makers with more platforms to showcase their work and given the public multiple ways to engage with the arts. There is no denying that individually both organizations are integral to the St. Louis/St. Charles artistic scene, but what they’ve given the area thus far in 2021 emphasizes why collaboration is so valuable in any creative community.