Patty Mitchell founded Passion Works in 1998, and this year, Mitchell will be returning to the studio as Passion Works’ executive director to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
“It’s amazing,” Mitchell said. “You keep your head down and keep working and when you look up, it’s been 20 years.”
The Passion Works 20th Anniversary Big Bash will take place Saturday at 6 p.m. at Central Venue, 29 E. Carpenter St., and will be decorated with art pieces from Passion Works artists.
“It’ll be like a Passion Works wonderland,” Nancy Epling, the program director for Passion Works, said.
Passion Works is a collaborative studio that encourages people to participate in programming through creative arts. The studio aims to be inclusive by creating job options for people of all abilities to collaborate with one another.
The studio was formerly under the Athens County Board of Developmental Disabilities as an ATCO art program that dissolved early 2017, according to a . Since August 2017, Passion Works has been collaborating with Creative Foundations and adopting the latter into its programming.
The studio has since been able to provide a wider range of services to its clients like providing transport for artists from surrounding counties and allowing artists to stay at the studio for longer periods of time.
Epling is excited to celebrate the studio that has had affected the lives of many residents from Athens as well as from surrounding counties.
“It just feels awesome because I’m 25 years old, and it’s been around for as long as I’ve been alive,” Epling said. “That’s a pretty magical thing to know that it’s been changing people’s lives since it started.”
Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said he is amazed at Passion Works’ contribution to the Athens area.
“It’s so interesting to me that you go to any business in the uptown area and there are passion flowers on the wall,” Patterson said. “It’s the city flower. How cool is that?”
Epling encourages everyone to visit the studio.
“If anyone is interested at all, especially people who think they’re not artists and ... not creative and people who don’t know how to ‘act’ around people with disabilities, I just want them to come here,” Epling said. “All it takes is just walking through that door and all your perceptions… all of those boundaries that you think are there will just crumble.”
Passion Works studio has many plans in store for the near future like its growing partnership with Ohio University and making the studio’s model one that is common. But for now, having the Big Bash is a way to commemorate what the studio has achieved in the past years.
“We’re really looking forward to it and we’re just going to celebrate (Passion Works),” Mitchell said.
Even after all those years of not being on the executive board for Passion Works, Mitchell has never stopped thinking about the studio. Now that she has returned as the executive director, Mitchell is excited of all the future opportunities available for the studio.
“I’m home,” she said.
— Shelby Campbell contributed to this report