“You would not believe how many adults want to make collages!” – Jana Wilson, Arkwings Executive Director, and local artist.
Arkwings, a large historic home turned nonprofit art space tucked away in Frayser, houses artists of various disciplines and shepherds them through their artistic journeys. According to Jana Wilson, Arkwings Executive Director, “it is a mind, body, and spiritual exploration.” The space is intended for play and exploration by the artist. It’s there for displaying artwork, housing a creative space for artists, cultivating and exchanging ideas and skills, and integrating nature.
The Arkwings house has had many different iterations since its inception in the 1930s. Originally built as a dream home for Judge John McCall’s wife, the house was equipped with a cedar wood closet made custom for her hats and shoes. Years later, it evolved into a hippie hotspot and became a hub for musicians and rock music. After that, the house was transformed into a youth retreat center for a local church ministry. In the early 1990s, the house was inherited by Judge McCall’s grandson “with the vision of developing his grandparents’ former home into a retreat center where people could come together to explore, learn, and grow.” (arkwings.com) As Jana says, the Arkwings we now know and love is a “hands-on, participatory space” for locals to enjoy and explore.
Currently, the Art Yard at Arkwings is open seven days a week and free to the public. The Art Yard is a series of five outdoor creativity stations that feature different activities for children and adults alike. One could paint on the community mini mural, share thoughts and feelings at the poetry tree, make music at the rhythms of nature circle, build a gnome home at hobbit town, or pick herbs and seeds from the community garden.
In addition to their Art Yard, Arkwings also does Open Garden & Gallery days every Wednesday from 1-5 pm where one can tour all of the homestead’s galleries full of local artists’ pieces. Arkwings always has many talented artists on display, some currently being Mary Wallace, Luiz Angel, Arelene Braddock, and many others, including Executive Director Jana Wilson.
On top of being a beautiful space to be creative, explore artistic passions, and view local Memphis art, Arkwings also does creative personal and professional development for those who wish to flex their creative muscles but don’t know where to begin.
Like all nonprofits, to keep their programming alive and benefit local Memphians, Arkwings needs volunteers. However, like everything else at Arkwings, volunteering can be a creative endeavor. Volunteers can choose how and where they help. Whether one wants to help in a hands-on manner through carpentry or cleaning, or by being a tour guide for community members, one could also volunteer by simply donating items for repurposed art and creative projects.
Arkwings is a unique space with an “amazingly peaceful, positive energy that you feel as soon as you roll up the gravel driveway,” says Jana. “The green space, stately old trees, and wildlife make it seem like you have traveled into the countryside. Inside, the former family home is equally serene and welcoming. I love that people sense all of that when they visit and that so many people come back and become part of a special group of collaborators, volunteers, visitors, and participants. The relationships and creative energy at Arkwings are unmatched anywhere else that I have ever spent time.”
If you want to get involved with Arkwings, look below to find out more!
- Attend one of their events like their Monthly Hues in the House Sip-N-Create Party
- Shop their merchandise
- Keep up with them on social media: Arkwings Foundation Facebook | Instagram
- Join their mailing list: Subscribe to their newsletter
- Volunteer: Join their page on Volunteer Odyssey
About the author:
Grace Woodruff is the Corporate & Community Engagement Manager at Volunteer Odyssey. She is a Teach For America Memphis alum and former schoolteacher who now spends her time reading, kickboxing, and exploring new places in the 901. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.