SOUTHINGTON -Lori-Ann Ferreira has found a second family at Southington Community Cultural Arts.
The artist drew a crowd as she worked on a loom at SoCCA’s center at 93 Main St. Sunday.
The nonprofit organization held a reception to open a new exhibit as members of its All Access group made progress on their weaving projects.
Ferreira is one of about 60 intellectually disabled people who are honing their creative talent through the program, which allows members to earn income with their creations.
“It’s a very great place; I love it here,” she said, snipping a blue piece of yarn and expertly winding it through the loom.
Friend and fellow All Access participant Megan Tillman wrapped Ferreira in a tight embrace.
“We all get along very good together,” the Southington resident said. “We all feel comfortable with each other.”
Tillman nodded and smiled at this.
“I love all my friends here,” she said. “And the teachers.”
SoCCA Executive Director Mary DeCroce bounced around the crowd, greeting friends, artists and fellow instructors.
“Today is an opportunity for people to see the kind of work we do here,” she said.
The center offers 20 to 30 classes at any given time, for children as young as 3 all the way up to older adults.
In addition to offering painting, sculpting, crocheting and drawing, SoCCA is one of just six groups in Connecticut to offer a full-scale pottery program.
Potters work in a 2,000-square-foot studio in the basement, which was open to visitors Sunday.
“We sort of own the Central Connecticut pottery bracket at the caliber we offer,” DeCroce pointed out.
Ryan Barron, 8, enjoyed seeing his teachers’ art in the new exhibit.
“This is his first time taking classes and he loves it,” his mom, Amy, said. “He’s very creative.”
Artists can sell their creations in the SoCCA boutique in the same building. They earn 60 percent of the profit for each sale.
This is a particularly attractive pursuit for All Access members like Ferreira and Tillman.
“They’re using the creative process to enhance their lives,” All Access Director Laurie MacClean explained. “It’s all about growth and development. Events like this are an opportunity to increase their exposure and meet other artisans like themselves. It’s a very rewarding group to work with.”
SoCCA saved the building in which it operates, raising $1.2 million to renovate it before officially opening to the public in September 2016.
Since then class attendance, All Access participation and interest have grown tremendously.
“We have been thriving,” DeCroce said. “We’re busier than we ever imagined.”
Southington resident Peggy Thibodeau takes part in a portrait class on Thursday mornings. She browsed the shop Sunday and admired fellow artists’ work on the studio walls.
“It’s wonderful to be with people doing the same thing I’m doing and all the support and admiration I get,” Thibodeau said.
SoCCA’s next class begins Feb. 26.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.