All a budding artist needs is curiosity and the desire to explore new ideas — that’s the philosophy behind Root Studio, a shared creative space in Columbia designed to foster an “artistic ecosystem.”
Root Studio’s owner, Columbia painter Karen Isailovic, has been honing the concept for years. It first took root in 2012 during a four-month experiment known as Laurel Factory. Isailovic curated the work of local artists at the C Street Gallery in Laurel and drew poets, dancers and storytellers to the Laurel Arts District.
Today, Isailovic continues to bring together artists who work in a variety of media – from painting to audio engineering – in a cluster of spacious studios tucked into a Guilford Road office park.
As one of those kids in high school who didn’t “fit in on the football field or ballet stage or even know they were creative,” Isailovic also aspires to help young people discover their potential. Practicing art, she says, fosters innovation, promotes wellness and builds leadership skills in people of all ages.
At Root Studio, creatives can gather and experiment with painting, textiles, photography and media production, buying blocks of time and storing supplies in rented lockers. Four studios, a control room and a writer’s nook adapt readily to almost any project. Isailovic’s own colorful paintings are at home in the vibrant atmosphere.
In its soft opening stage, Root Studio is still resource building and spreading the word on social media through Facebook and Meetup. Curious community members and artists are invited to get a glimpse at frequent workshops and open houses.
Terri Simon, a Laurel photographer, musician and poetry book author attended a recent evening open house.
“It’s a great space for artists and writers to come together to create,” she says.
Ben Tchoubineh, another open house visitor who works in Columbia, says he’s interested in exploring body painting and screenwriting.
“We’re here to nurture everyone’s creative spirit,” Isailovic says.
In August, Root Studio’s two-week inaugural residency program drew nine female artists to interpret the theme of women and independence in contemporary art, which culminated in a public reception displaying the resulting work in painting, textiles and digital media. For one residency program participant, Cindy Cisneros, Root Studio is filling a void she’s felt since leaving art school by providing a space to create and mingle with other artists, she wrote in an email.
Meanwhile, studio leadership including creative director Marc Moreau, a Grammy-winning audio engineer and producer, offer personal coaching sessions in their fields.
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Root Studio will be announcing new workshops for 2018 in the coming months that focus on creative practice for all individuals, Isailovic says, not just for practicing artists. And plans are in development for another residency program next year.
*Correction: A previous version of this article misstated Racquel Keller’s role at Root Studio. Keller is program director.
9140 Guilford Road, Suite D, Columbia
$14-$20 per hour with $25 monthly membership; $40 per hour for nonmembers (or $96 for three hours)