The Story of a Shop

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Taintor Child, artist, and program director of MindsEye Designs in Dover, received a grant from New Hampshire Humanities to bring a Connections program to the artists she mentors. MindsEye Designs is a vocational program in the creative arts at Community Partners serving adults with disabilities. Taintor had taught a class in a small space at their Crosby St. office. But now MindsEye has a storefront gallery and a shop on Dover's Central Avenue.

After Tainter received the New Hampshire Humanities grant, it was to this shop that Connections facilitator Maren Tirabassi came to lead a reading and discussion program with her class of Community Partners artists. "People get lit up when Maren comes," Taintor says.

She explains her vision of combining art and literacy. "Literature informs visual communication, and words offer a way to put together mental pictures. We as humans want to be able to express our own individuality. An art program can help students communicate their experience [with books and with the world]."It was significant that the first book they read together was The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton; a theme built around this book and others that every house has a story to tell.

Maren and Taintor and their students also read Sarah Orne Jewett's "The White Heron" and then journeyed from the shop on Central Avenue to visit Jewett's house in nearby South Berwick, Maine to explore the story of a writer's house. Many students could not read all the words of the story about a child who protects what she loves, the white heron. But with art materials they could express their experience of the story; they could make meaning through art.

The creation of such a shop, MindsEye Designs, was years in the making. Taintor visited Spindleworks, a non profit art center for adults with disabilities in Brunswick, Maine. She visited a similar gallery and art center in San Francisco and later, to her great joy, in Paris.  

MindsEye offers gift items for sale of collages, paintings, sculptures, and fabric art of Taintor's students. Some of the art is pure whimsy such as paper monkey toys. The art also includes vibrant nuno felted scarves students had made with a visiting artist. They got the wool from Riverslea Farm in Epping.

"We're here to create," Taintor says, opening her hands to mean all of us. The next project will be creating a mural called, "Many Fish" -  ("We're all different." She smiles.) Maybe in Rollinsford along the river. Here in the shop, the idea is in the works.  

New Hampshire Humanities' mission is to bring people together to share ideas and their views of the world. Through art and words, it happened in this shop. 

By Terry Farish, Connections Coordinator