Teacher Liz Bessel, businesswoman Jocelyn Paquette, and instructor Kristin Meranda would have never guessed their fast friendship in a knitting group would turn into an artistic endeavor, Meraki Studio, which opened mid-May.
Earlier this year, Bessel had outgrown the studio where she taught kids art classes and took a walk through 30 Cutler Mills’ former gallery space, a huge room with high ceilings, exposed brick, and wood flooring. At the time, she was hoping to share it with another artist, but when that fell through she turned to her friends with the idea of renting the space anyway. “It was creative, fun, people centered, and it sounded like a great opportunity,” says Meranda, who alongside Paquette eagerly jumped on board.
“Meraki” in Greek means to do something with soul, creativity, or love, and to put something of yourself into your work. Thus, Meraki Studio is a place for art-makers, both the professional and simply curious, to create, learn, and discuss. While primarily fiber-arts-based, a skill all three agree is both practical and fun but rarely taught in schools anymore, Meraki offers other classes like photo collage (October 14 and 28) and block printing (October 6 and 13) in addition to their line-up of courses in sewing, quilting, and silk scarf marbling (October 25). “If somebody wants it, we’ll find someone to teach it,” says Meranda, referencing the introduction of a RISD professor to teach painting at the studio.
Meraki’s goal isn’t about producing professional artists – it’s about catering to any and all who dare to try. For Paquette, this meant a place that functions similarly to the kitchen incubator at Hope & Main, but for artists. The studio is intended as a safe space for people to experiment with new materials and skills. Paquette notes that they draw a wide audience, from a 14-year-old designing her own clothes to a woman whose first quilt debuted in a show on Martha’s Vineyard. “You name a demographic, we got it,” jokes Meranda.
However, Meraki is so much more than just the classes it offers. “We want to maintain a communal space,” says Paquette. To this end, Meraki has been rented and used for birthday parties, private events, and fundraisers. In the future, they hope to install a projector for movie nights and how-tos.
All three women are extremely grateful to the building, town, and locals that have embraced Meraki’s mission. “Warren’s been so warm and welcoming to our business,” credits Bessel. “It’s so eclectic and vibrant.” For the full roster of classes and events, go to their website.