If you’ve had any kind of experience with Otherwise Studios, Ahmri, and/or Abby, you’ll understand when I gush at how AMAZING they are! I’ve had the pleasure of working with them through various DIYversity Project initiatives. So, it comes as no surprise that despite the COVID-19 quarantine, Abby and Ahmri have been busy making sure we can still find meaningful ways to create connections within our communities.
Otherwise Studios, run by Ahmri Vandeborne and Abby Nowakowski, is based in Guelph Ontario. Otherwise Studios is an inclusive studio space open to artists and creatives for collaborating, teaching, innovating, and mess-making. With community at the core of everything we do, Otherwise takes the form of a studio, classroom, stage, gallery space, and most recently has branched out into the virtual world.
Otherwise Studios has been creating community virtually during the pandemic: “Like everyone else, Otherwise has shifted focus to the digital world, while still prioritizing community with everything we do. We wanted to make sure that everything we put out into the world would be something the community at large would benefit from, so we started brainstorming and came up with a few projects that have been keeping us busy. We have hosted a couple of Livestream Instagram workshops including Bookbinding and Monotyping Without a Press, and have a few more online workshops up our sleeves. We partnered with The Community Company and Art Not Shame to create hand-illustrated and hand-bound activity books as part of The Wellness Project which were delivered to 250 homes registered through The HOPE House, and are starting a new round of activity books being made for Walls to Bridges. We are also in the middle of a very exciting online collaborative residency program, Co-Create, for which we partnered with a local music organization, Bumaroo. The residents who are a part of this project will be exhibiting their work through an online platform and will be highlighted through both the Bumaroo and Otherwise Studios platforms. We have so much more planned for the rest of the summer including more collaborations with local businesses, livestream concerts, workshops, and downloadable resources, and can’t wait to share with the community!”
“As a small business that focuses on inclusion, community, and encouraging the arts, our inspiration always draws from those three things. In an uncertain time, community is more important than ever. We wanted to create programs and deliver materials to the public that could be accessible both online and off, so that the community could have a sense of belonging and togetherness despite being physically apart.”