Dutchess County Executive's Arts Awards 2022
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Lisa Ameijide was involved with community theater, acting and creating art projects for children.
“Then,” she said, “it all stopped.”
But Lisa’s passion for the arts would not allow her to stop, so she contacted Volunteer New York! The organization works to increase volunteerism in the lower Hudson Valley through organized volunteer projects, and by linking individuals to nonprofit organizations through its online database.
Lisa connected with the Virtual Senior Center in New York City, which was looking for volunteers to teach Zoom classes during the pandemic lockdown. Two years later, Lisa continues to teach paper craft.
“I am still teaching that class and truly enjoy the enthusiasm of the participants,” she said. “The folks that participate in classes are people who are interested in life and learning, and I’m glad I can provide something new and creative for them.”
Lisa’s online endeavor is just one reason why she is receiving the 2022 Dutchess County Executive’s Arts Award for Volunteerism.
“This is an honor I never expected and I am so happy that Dutchess County recognizes individuals and their efforts,” she said. “I just enjoyed making art with others—getting an award on top of that is a real treat and appreciated.”
Lisa has been involved with Hawk Rock Theater and Arts on the Lake, both in Putnam County. She has been involved with presentations of “Beowulf & Grendel;” “Tam O’Shanter;” and “The Canterbury Tales,” all of which utilized puppets made by Lisa and her fellow volunteer, Mary Schriber. Lisa has also brought her puppets to parades and events in the Hudson Valley. And she has created floats for parades, taught historical arts, led storytelling, and will be teaching free arts and crafts classes through local libraries.
“Art is creative thinking,” she said. “It helps people to engage with one another and work as a group for the benefit of all. When creative minds get together, the community wins. The more we keep to ourselves, the less we know one another and we become distant and separated.
“I think that, as a whole, we have become disconnected with our communities—we are flying solo and not doing things together. We don’t know where we belong and art is definitely a connector. Community art projects, on a regular basis, can have a great effect—they make people happy.”
She added, “Art is an expression of yourself. Without creativity, I don’t feel we advance to our full potential. Creativity is important in all walks of life, it’s a way of thinking.”
Lisa’s attraction to the arts began with her family, courtesy of artistic parents. Also, her father had his own New York City advertising agency, and was an illustrator.
“I come from a family of artists,” she said, “so it’s always been part of my life.”
And what advice would she give an emerging artist, young or old?
“Do the kind of art you want to do,” she said. “It is not unusual in the beginning to have to have a second job, because the path is not for the unsure. I feel you can always do your art, even if it’s not your career. It’s sad to see so many artists just let it go because life has taken up all of their time and art is put aside. Find ways to be creative and to share your creativity.”
And, Lisa said, art can have a lasting impact on a community.
“Art,” she said, “Always makes a town attractive.”