Workshops Bring Art to the Underserved

First Fridays are a celebration of artistic expression for WhyArts? and its clients at Quality Living Inc., Mosaic and VODEC.

Eight times a year on the first Friday of the month, WhyArts? hosts a workshop for these groups at the Hot Shops Art Center in downtown Omaha. Led by WhyArts? artists Lisa Kalantjakos, Jess Davis and oftentimes a visiting artist, the two-hour sessions include music, theatre and a visual arts activity.

Jess Davis, Lisa Kalentjakos and Stephanie Anderson.

Jess Davis, Lisa Kalentjakos and Stephanie Anderson.

On Oct. 2, Kalantjakos, Davis and Stephanie Anderson took workshop participants on a trip to Africa. “Does everyone have their passport?” Kalantjakos asked as the group settled into their seats. She then passed around a box full of intricate African objects for the audience to examine, then warmed up their voices by encouraging their participation in “Taboo,” an African chant:

Taboo (echo) Ee pah (echo)
Ee wah tah wah tah wah tah yah yah
Bon choo (echo) Ee pah (echo)
Ee chung-a chung-a chung-a yah yah (echo)

“There is no template for these workshops – each one is different,” said WhyArts? Director Carolyn Anderson. “Our artists really tap into their creativity to plan these sessions, and it enables our clients to participate at whatever level they’re comfortable with.”

The Oct. 2 session also included painting and storytelling activities. For more information about the Hot Shops workshops, contact Anderson at

Video from Oct. 2 Hot Shops Workshop