Pachis owner Juliana Flores developed the concept when she was in college and working with kids.
“A lot of the time, art is mistaken for craft, and just putting together construction paper and glue sticks and other little simple things, rather than giving it more meaning and letting the kids explore what they can do,” Flores said. “To me it was really important to have them look at art as a way of expression rather than another subject in school.”
The Pachis curriculum is built around four main topics called “My Self, My Community, My World and My Art.” The topics inspire learning and expression about the child’s individuality, other people, the community, the world, different cultures and various styles of art.
Flores said the program helps children feel comfortable with themselves, learn about their role models, discover how to contribute positively to their community and gain a wide perspective about cultures and people around the world.
“To me, it’s really important for kids to understand what other kids their age are doing in any other part of the world, and also understanding why we look different or why we do things differently in terms of traditions and holidays,” Flores said.
Topics like recycling and conservation are also important parts of the workshops. Flores said art can really be done with anything as long as the child has the freedom to create what they want.
“It’s a little bit ridiculous that we’re cutting art from the budget and from schools because you can do a lot without having to spend a lot of money,” Flores said. “You can still give kids that sense of expression for a least an hour a day to make something that comes from their heart rather than just their brain.”
The workshops, offered to children 4 to 12, are a unique combination of class structure and artistic freedom. Flores said allowing children to express themselves while learning has been successful.
“They really like the freedom of expressing themselves, but also having the structural part of a class,” Flores said. “At the end of the day, they’re learning something, they’re getting something out of it, they’re making something that they get to take home.”
Flores said the program focuses on individual inspiration, rather than instilling technical skill. While children do learn how to work with different media, the projects they create are their own. She said kids can paint with tooth brushes to explore different textures and discover the endless things they can create with each art supply.
After each class, every student creates something completely unique, which Flores said is really how art should be.
“I went through art school and I absolutely hated being graded or my fellow students being graded over something that the teacher didn’t think was the best,” Flores said.
Flores said it’s important for kids to create art from a young age and continue. The studio features a gallery of art and handmade items by artists from San Diego and Tijuana to show children that they can make a living as an artist.
“I think you can become a better person. It sounds really cheesy, but I honestly believe you can become a better person if you have your artistic side a lot more developed,” Flores said. “It makes you communicate better, it teaches acceptance, it teaches respect and caring for others. I think there’s a lot of value to exposing children to that form of art rather than, ‘We’re all going to draw dolphins and they have to look like this.’”
For class schedules and registration information, visit www.mypachis.com.