New York City is the mecca of all things creative. From dance and art to music and fashion—and everything in between—there’s no shortage of creativity in the “City That Never Sleeps.” And as a creative person by nature, I’m always looking for things to do and ways to explore the vast resources the city has to offer. During a recent Instagram scroll session, I discovered an unconventional arts and crafts studio, Unarthodox, in Chelsea. What drew me to the post was an image of a blindfolded woman sculpting a head with clay. Yes, blindfolded. I thought: what a great way to get in touch with your creative side—and not to mention your other four senses!
Unarthodox is the brainchild of Álvaro Montagna. Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Álvaro always had a passion for art and photography. Alongside his partner Maria Kordova, the duo opened this sleek, but simple space in West Chelsea for all to enjoy while visiting New York or for Newyorkers to explore in their leisure time. A few weeks ago, I reached out to Maria and Álvaro, to sign up for a “Sculpture Without Sight” course. Unsure of what to expect, I showed up with no expectations or preconceived notions. On a Monday night at 7:30, I entered a beautifully lit studio, was handed a glass of wine, and introduced to my new creative counterparts.
Keeping the class small guarantees a unique and enhanced experience, Álvaro gave us a brief introduction to what we’d be doing. As we sat across from one another at a long table in front of busts covered in clay, we were asked to close our eyes and carefully feel our face—the indentations, the protrusions, the structure of how a head and face are shaped. But it wasn’t long before blindfolds were on, and all our senses were getting to work. For about an hour and a half total (with a few grabs for the wine glass here and there), we sculpted and shaped what we thought a face should look like. With a five-second glance opportunity in the middle of the session, we created our masterpieces, and soon, there they were.
Not one single face looked alike, and we were all surprised to see the real talents that were hidden inside us. With only one of us having sculpted before (albeit not blindfolded), we revealed some very detailed works of art. It was incredible to see how your other senses take over when one is missing, which gave all of us a new perspective on the challenges faced by vision-impaired members of our society.
Though I was a bit apprehensive throughout the experience (I mean how long can you go without sight and without feeling nervous), I must admit, it was a therapeutic and eye-opening (no pun intended) experience.
This is a great activity for dates, birthdays or even self-reflection. I can’t wait to come back for more unorthodox experiences and look forward to getting in touch with my inner creative!
If you want to connect with your creative side and are in New York, do not miss a session at Unarthodox. Visit their official website for information and availability of classes. ■