While art and art education have long been one of Midland’s strong suits, Creative 360 has always aimed to fill a unique need in the artistic palette within the community.
Smaller in size and offering classes with a different take, Creative 360 functions as the outlet where artists go to unwind, functioning as an approachable channel for creativity in Midland’s art scene.
The organization recently celebrated their 25-year anniversary of artistic endeavors and art education in Midland. Creative 360 started out years ago as The Creative Spirit Center, founded by Cynthia Keefe and Linda Z. Smith who established the organization to deliver experiences in the creative process, and to enhance physical, mental and spiritual wellness through the arts.
With that similar inspiration in mind, Creative 360 just welcomed a new executive director in July 2020, welcoming long-time Midland resident Dr. Laura Vosejpka to the organization. Dr. Vosejpka recently returned to Midland for the role after leaving Helena College University of Montana, where she served as CEO and Dean. Dr. Vosejpka previously worked at Dow in various capacities and taught science at Northwood University for a number of years.
Creative 360 in Midland.
She happened to come across news that the previous executive director was retiring, which sparked the idea of moving back to Midland and pursuing a passion.
Before she officially started in July, Vosejpka spent six weeks helping Creative 360 recover from flood damage, specifically in some of the programming spaces in the facility’s basement. While Creative 360 didn’t take on any direct flood damage, experienced a sump pump failure during the period of rain, which lead to taking on water. In that event, the facility lost a majority of their art supplies and resources, and the damage impacted the dance room floor, which was able to be salvaged and restored.
While a PhD in chemistry and a professional corporate background, followed by several roles in higher education might seem like a winding path to a career in the arts, it’s not, as Vosejpka says art has been an ongoing theme throughout her life.
“I’ve always had a love and appreciation for all different types of art and culture,” says Vosejpka. “I had a chemistry professor who told me in college I could always make both art and writing a hobby, but to push for a career in the sciences, so I have appreciation for both. Thankfully now, I get to work with passionate people who have made art their career.”
Dr. Laura Vosejpka, Executive Director of Creative 360.
The organization’s underground, small-scale vibe with big-name artists is a model Vosejpka plans to run with.
One of those new efforts is through the Express Yourself Artshop, a partnership with Redbubble, where any number of designs can be transferred to clothing, wall art, stationary and more.
“I feel like right now, we are a mix of what Creative 360 was founded on, plus some new, creative programming and ways that people can express themselves,” says Vosejpka. “We have the Express Yourself Artshop, classes tailored to students with disabilities that run at a slower pace, ceramics, music, movement and dance, yoga and more.”
“In fact, one of my favorite dresses is a print of the work of one of our artists, Colleen Dolan, and is available in the shop. I get so many compliments every time I wear it and people are surprised it was inspired locally,” she says.
Live music at Creative 360.
For Vosejpka, returning to Midland for the role was an easy one.
“The spirit of this town is one of the reasons why I wanted to come back,” says Vosejpka. “After the flood, it just felt like the last kick in the gut. There is such a positive spirit here, so we are trying to figure out creative ways to bring people together.”
Vosejpka is making sure that spirit is playing out in a number of ways, between working with other local businesses and nonprofits, to sending out good vibes with classes and more. This September, Creative 360 launched an effort called Karma Month, complete with ten different feel-good activities and events starting with a prayer flag workshop.
Participants can pick up prayer flag supplies at Creative 360, and distribution and hanging will take place later this month. Supplies come with enough material to make a flag to hang at Creative 360 and enough for two other flags.
Dr. Laura Vosejpka with prayer flags.
“The intent behind the prayer flags is to fill them with positive energy and intent, and have that carried throughout the community, because we could use a little good energy right now,” says Vosejpka. “We believe the good vibes and intent we put out into the world will come back to us.”
Other events in September include an outdoor performance from the Midland Saxophone Quartet on the 12th, a tour of the John Pratt Mosaic House, Equinox Yoga with guitarist Mike Zureich and Kim Scott of The Yoga Place on Sept. 22 and much more.
“We are really trying to highlight the many things we can do to make ourselves and others feel good and embrace our community as a whole,” says Vosejpka. “I like to think of it as finding a way to reach our arms out to all and there is something here for everyone.”
A mural from the John Pratt Mosaic House.
Creative 360 is planning additional activities, classes and events for fall and winter, and is just waiting to see what the event requirements for social distancing are.
“As soon as we have the ability to do more classes and events, we will,” says Vosejpka.
You can read more about Vosejpka’s background here. For more information on Creative360 and their upcoming events, check out their website, Facebook page and make any piece of art uniquely yours with the Express Yourself Artshop.