Sisterhood Studio is an art studio that The Reentry Initiative (TRI) founder Deborah Simmons established in her home in the spring of 2015. After Deborah enjoyed an inspiring hands-on experience with mixed media art in the fall of 2014, she knew she had to establish an art studio of her own. She furnished and outfitted a large space in the lower level of her home to accommodate the necessary seating, tables, supplies and materials. Many women colleagues had a chance to enjoy art in that inaugural year. Three in particular, Christine Bodine, Nancy Waldron and Janet Gates, have shared Deborah’s vision and moved the Studio to where it is today. At the very beginning, Deborah and Christine had no idea how the studio would evolve beyond a place to dabble in art.
A long-time proponent of expressive arts as a healing medium, Deborah wanted non-artists to feel welcome to experiment with paper arts and painting. At the Sisterhood Studio, many of us discovered skills we hadn’t used before. We enjoyed making art books, especially books created out of flattened and recycled paper rolls. We covered the rolls with recycled craft papers and filled them with painted watercolor papers, inspiring scripture or other conversation starters. Our recycled paper product line has evolved to include Purse Verse ornaments (Friendship, Comfort, Courage, Protection, Prayer for the Times), Talking Sticks, Mini Notepads and fabric- covered composition books. (See photos and a list of the complete written contents). Other volunteers have offered crafts of their own making such as decorative plastic bag holders.
The studio originally began selling their recycled paper products early in 2016 using volunteer artists to create the items. From early 2017, volunteers affiliated with the studio kept the fires burning until TRI’s transitional housing opened in November, 2017 with space where the reentering women can assemble the recycled paper products alongside their Sisterhood Studio sisters.
Many women have come to Sisterhood Studio in order to discover new aspects of themselves through art. Recently, staff from a local non-profit transformed their feelings of fear into hope using art experiences provided through Sisterhood Studio. That won’t change. Neither will our new tradition of supporting TRI with the sale of products created by Sisterhood Studio.
The products of Sisterhood Studio are sold at conferences, Niwot Florist and other venues for the benefit of TRI. Recently, Deborah discussed ideas with the former director of the Bean Project, a very successful social enterprise providing employment skills for women. If you or your organization have questions about custom or bulk purchases, please contact Deborah Simmons at Deborah@reentryinitiative.org. [See also the photos on this page for product examples.] If you have suggestions for venues where we can sell our products, please let Deborah know.
As of this writing, more than fifty women have experienced the Studio’s hospitality. To everyone who has supported Sisterhood Studio and has been a part of our history, we thank you so much! If you would like to get involved with the studio, please contact Deborah Simmons at Deborah@reentryinitiative.org. We can arrange for you to come when people will be working on projects or arrange a workshop tailored to our mutual goals.