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Why We Love Free Art Friday


UW-Madison student, Melanie Ginsburg, creating valentines for her friends and family during Free Art Friday.

Students joined Wheelhouse Studios to get into the Valentine’s Day spirit last Friday by creating a giant card for Madison, along with 3D crafts.

Wheelhouse Studios Director Jay Ekleberry said that it was great to see so many students collaborating on the project in a carefree environment, as students were able to relax after their long school week. The inspiration for the giant valentine was for students to gain an appreciation for working together.

This event was part of of Wheelhouse’s Free Art Fridays, where they sponsor free events the first Friday of the month in order to encourage personal expression.

By taking away the stress and confusion of choosing and buying supplies, Jay said they are giving students no excuse to not take part.

“Free Art Friday is as much or even more about the social interaction as it is about crafting,” Jay said. “The conversations that we overhear at the events, people are able to meet and become friends, which truly builds community.”

The studio offers a variety of engagement levels for students to take part in, from stopping in to sign the big Valentine’s Day card to spending the whole night with friends doing a range of crafting activities.

When planning Free Art Friday’s activities, Wheelhouse Studios pays attention to seasonality, holidays and campus events.

The first Free Art Friday was in October 2004 and the students have kept it going with attendance never being less than 100 and sometimes bringing in as many as 260 people. The event is sponsored by Wheelhouse Studios with hopes create awareness of the space.


Students’ love letter to Madison is on display at Wheelhouse Studios.

How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Write in the comments section below!

Author: Gabrielle DiBenedetto

Gabrielle DiBenedetto is a UW-Madison junior double majoring in Journalism and Economics. She can be seen studying or chatting with friends in the Sun Garden at Union South with a bowl of Babcock ice cream.

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