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CHAW: the cool, bohemian art teacher you always wanted

December 17, 2014
Today, CHAW Board Member Jenny Werwa shares her personal CHAW story with us.  Many of our board members are also current or former CHAW students, and we love to be a part of helping our community continue to connect and engage in deeper ways–whether that’s on our board, in our neighborhood, or maybe just through the process of creating art together.  We’ll hand this off to Jenny to tell you all about her CHAW journey–and we invite you to get in touch, get engaged, get connected…and share your story with us, too!
Walking into CHAW is like stepping back in time to the art classes I took in middle school when a cool bohemian named Bon was the art teacher and he gave me extra credit for using different colors from everyone else on my painting project.
In art class, it’s good to be a little different and uniqueness is celebrated. It’s a safe place to explore and try new things. That’s how it is at CHAW. The building is safe place to create – a drawing, a pot, a photograph, an idea.
I first found CHAW about 10 years ago when I was looking for inexpensive black and white photography classes to take in the evening after work. It was a small class with a great teacher – but what I really loved was that I could use the dark room as much as I wanted. I started going there a few Saturdays each month. CHAW is one of the few places in town that host an open darkroom. Also, CHAW just feels like a fun place.
Jenny peruses the great adult student work on display at CHAW’s 2014 Winter Arts Showcase & Performance Festival

Jenny peruses the great adult student work on display at CHAW’s 2014 Winter Arts Showcase & Performance Festival

It took me a while to realize that CHAW is for students of all ages and not just adults –  you’d think I’d have noticed the kids’ artwork hanging on the classroom walls and in the hallways – but when I did, I knew I needed to support the organization with more than just my tuition. I received a fundraising appeal from CHAW during the annual Paint Bucket campaign, which raises money for CHAW’s tuition assistance program that benefits students who cannot pay the full cost of class registrations. It all made so much sense to me.
Instead of being a one time donor, I chose to make a smaller, regular contribution of $18 a month to help CHAW sustain its great programming.
Several years after my first photography class, I decided to take Guitar for Beginners because I have always wanted to learn how to play. After one of my classes, I saw a flyer on a bulletin board calling for new Board Members. I was so excited because I wanted to be more engaged with CHAW. I soon became a member of the Board, where I was warmly welcomed by the enthusiastic leaders and committed staff. Since joining, I’ve learned even more about the way that CHAW serves the community, which has made me even more invested in this place that I love.
I am a proud supporter and advocate for CHAW because it is not just a special place for me, but for everyone who walks in the doors.