Dutchess County Executive's Arts Awards 2023
In 2018, Kimberly Popolizio started the i2Evolve art studio in her living room in Red Hook, NY. A former New York City public school art teacher, she had already been using art to help foster children with behavioral issues. But she wanted to be able to offer these skills to the larger community. “I wanted to create a space, for children and adults, where they could disconnect from stress and express their inner thoughts through imagination and creativity,” she says.
After moving into a small studio in the village of Red Hook, Kim created a curriculum and started to hook up with local agencies and schools. “We incorporated mindfulness into art making; we call it expressive arts. It’s not your typical skill-based art, it was more or less intuitive art making. We got a lot of great feedback that the kids were talking and communicating.”
Last year, Kim and her team brought their curriculum to the neurodiverse student population of grades K-12 in the Red Hook Central School District. “We succeeded at having every student represented at the district wide art show. We participated in the school-to-work program this past year mentoring and training two senior students with diverse abilities,” she says.
After moving into a larger space in 2022, i2Evolve was able to expand their offerings; a store will soon be opening in the studio, which will be open six days a week. “It’s within walking distance of the school so students can walk come after school, sit with some friends, socialize, and do a small project,” she says. “People in the community can also hang out. On a rainy Saturday you can come in, buy an art kit and just hang out, do some art, have some snacks and some coffee.”
These days i2Evolve works with children and adults of all abilities offering a diverse range of services, consulting options and private sessions. “Bringing the community together through art. It’s what we do,” says Kim, who says she is “thrilled and honored” to be the 2023 recipient of the Dutchess County Arts Award for Thinking Differently.