New location brings after-school programming to Art Smart Academy in Irmo
Kids discover creative outlets to express their ideas nearly every day around the Art Smart Academy workroom. The Irmo business, now in a new larger location, is stretching children’s brains with chess and foreign language, too.
Katherine Fix, a former art teacher from Sumter, started Art Smart Academy in 2011. She taught art out of her garage at first and brought classes to childcare facilities with Art Smart Academy’s Mobile Art before setting up a permanent location in a shopping center.
Art Smart Academy recently celebrated its move to a 6,000-square-foot building on Kinley Road with an open house. Fix relocated in late December but said last weekend’s open house finally made the transition feel real.
“We have 6,000 square feet versus about 1,600,” she said. “It was just an empty warehouse, but it doesn’t take long for an artist to make a space beautiful.”
Art classes for homeschool groups, Kidz Night In and birthday parties are still a big part of Art Smart Academy, but Fix and her staff also have added an after-school component. She said fulfilling parents’ requests for such a program was the main reason for the move to a larger facility.
Kids aren’t just learning how to make pottery and create art with pastels and pencils. They are becoming chess players and gaining proficiency in other languages.
“Each day is centered around enrichment,” Fix said. “We are trying to integrate right- and left-brain learning.”
Art Smart Academy still has a mobile presence, and classes are offered at local schools, YMCA facilities and even corporate events for adults. The whole family can enjoy creating something together during Family Night or at the walk-in pottery studio.
The new location also has room for art therapy, and Fix said local professionals can utilize the space to work with children with physical or mental disabilities.
“It’s not just for me. It’s a business for the community,” she said.
Art Smart Academy’s Art Club has followed her lead. The members, from elementary to high school students, create art projects for local events and nonprofits like pinwheels for the upcoming Great Strides Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Walk in Irmo.
Fix wants her students’ impact to be even greater in the future, ideally through Paint the Park. The community painting party is held a few times a year, and Fix is hoping to grow the event to raise awareness and donations for a deserving group.
“I would love to see 1,000 people painting at a time,” she said.
Spring Break Camp is next on the calendar at Art Smart Academy. More information about classes can be found at ArtSmartAcademy.com.