HOPEWELL — During one Lamb Arts workshop, Eliza Lamb introduced collage-making to residents of the Lucy Corr senior living facility. Afterwards, a woman came up to Eliza and told her, “I didn’t know art could do that.”
“She said she'd had a serious accident two nights before and almost died,” Eliza recalled, “and she said she’d been a mess since then — jittery, nervous. And she said, ‘Sitting here, cutting and making this work, I found peace again, and I didn’t think I ever would.’”
As co-founder and executive director of Lamb Center for Arts and Healing — or Lamb Arts for short — Eliza aims to bring the power of art to as many Hopewell and Tri-Cities residents as possible.
The center's goal: to help communities thrive.
“The arts have been a part of nearly every good thing in my life … and I know firsthand what they can inspire in people, and how they can change your life,” Eliza said. “And the research backs it up. The arts are a cornerstone to downtown revitalization. They are shown to reduce stress and increase reports of life satisfaction.”
A graduate of Prince George High School and a lifelong frequenter of downtown Hopewell, Eliza has extensive experience studying art, psychology, and the ways these fields intertwine. She attended Savannah College of Art and Design and Columbia University, and she holds three Master's degrees in art and art education, art administration and clinical psychology. She also earned a doctorate in art and art education, and she has worked as an arts and health researcher for the VCUarts Arts Research Institute.
In 2016, Eliza founded Lamb Arts with her father, Charles Lamb, a civil engineer and Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame honoree who shares Eliza’s passion for community involvement.
The first thing Lamb Arts did was survey Hopewell’s community members and organizational leaders, asking what people wanted to see and identifying where service gaps existed.
“Research is an important part of what we do,” Eliza said, “not just so that we can be smart about what we’re doing, how and why, but also so that we can see what works and be able to shift our programming, and also so we can share it with communities like Hopewell.”
The organization officially began providing arts programming to the Tri-Cities in May of last year. With the mobile Lamb Arts tent, the group has brought creative experiences to many Hopewell community events, including Third Thursdays, the Jazz and Arts Expo and National Night Out.
Lamb Arts also brings activities to local schools. This year, Hopewell High School students teamed up with Lamb Arts to make valentines cards for the city's senior citizens, and last year the nonprofit taught mindfulness through sketching to J.E.J. Moore Middle School students in Prince George.
Currently, Lamb Arts is gearing up for an appearance at the Prince George County Back to School Fair on Aug. 23.
Between May and December 2017 alone, Lamb Arts provided art programming to over 2,800 community members — all made possible through partnerships with groups like Lucy Corr, Hopewell Recreation and Parks, Hopewell Downtown Partnership and more.
Eliza said Lamb Arts has many new programming ideas on deck awaiting partnership support, and the group hopes to eventually have a brick-and-mortar location in downtown Hopewell.
“But we believe that getting out into the community is more important first — meeting people where they are,” Eliza added, “so you can find us popping up all over the community.”
For upcoming Lamb Arts events or information about how to participate in the newest community survey, visit www.lambarts.org.
Kate Gibson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 722-5162.