St. Pete studio gives space for children to create imaginative works of art

John Gascot is on a mission to expose children to the benefits of art.

He started a diversity art class for children in his community, hoping to use art to help kids find common ground.

Children have since been using their imagination to create colorful works of art at Studio at 5663 in St Petersburg.

"You can create what you want to create," said Oliver Wilder, an art student. "Like you can make what you want to make."

They are taking part in a free arts program called "Diversity Arts."

"It's a program that I started in order to uplift underserved youth, diverse youth, to get different youth from different backgrounds, to interact and create together so that they grow up knowing that they're not so different," said John Gascot, President of Diversity Arts.

The St. Petersburg non-profit was started by Gascot, a studio artist, in 2016. He wanted to use art as a way for children to celebrate their differences.

"Through these workshops, we get kids from different backgrounds to collaborate and create together in spite of any differences that they might have economically, racially, gender wise," he said.  

Today, the art students are making their own characters for a life-size board game that John help created. He also brings in other artist to help.

"It's more about the relationships and connections," he offered, "that they make and about confidence-building. We want the kids to grow up to be confident in their own skin."

He said art has other benefits too.

"Just the act of making art is therapeutic," John said. "Usually, when somebody is making art, they let go and are free to explore."

John has been using art to bring children together to make his community a safer and more accepting place to live. John hopes to one day have a center that offers free after-school programs.

You can learn more about the program by clicking here.