It didn’t take long for Shannon Driscoll and Booker T. Washington alum Kayli House Cusick to decide to start a business together. The two met at a weekend pop-up studio in Oak Cliff and each realized that the other had her missing piece. Driscoll had been running adult art classes from her studio, and Cusick had written a stack of curriculum for kids’ art classes that she was ready to use. The two joined forces, and in 2010 opened what is now the bustling studio and shop Oil and Cotton in Oak Cliff.
Employing more than 100 different teaching artists, Oil and Cotton offers adult art classes that range from drawing, painting, and calligraphy to aluminum plate lithography, needle felting, paper marbling and macramé, as well as classes, camps, and portfolio development for teens and kids.
“We wanted to make a studio space that was comfortable but also messy enough that people didn’t feel intimidated,” Cusick says. Commenting on how they have achieved their goal, she continued: “My mom always says, ‘When I walk into your space, I just get this overwhelming feeling that I want to make something!’”
By engaging in time-honored art practices, students learn new techniques and grow in appreciation for and respect of artists and the skill it takes to create.
Oil and Cotton’s first students were mostly local Oak Cliff residents, but as the space has grown, so has its reach. Adults and kids from across North Dallas now take classes in Oak Cliff. And the community in Oak Cliff is incredibly thankful.
“Oak Cliffers can only eat so many macaroons,” Cusick laughs. “It’s important for our business-owning neighbors to have new traffic in the area.”
Even more, Oil and Cotton has benefitted the neighborhood in deeper, more meaningful ways than just bringing foot traffic.
“We think of ourselves as a community bridge in the midst of a gentrifying neighborhood,” Cusick says. “We started a scholarship program, intentionally hire Spanish-speaking employees, and work closely with the Latino Cultural Center. We are trying to keep that engagement going as we want to be respectful and honor the community.”
Through its art classes, beautifully curated shop, and growing artistic community, Oil and Cotton breathes new, creative life into Oak Cliff by training both its local neighbors and those farther north. “For us, it’s all about the people,” Cusick says.
For more information: oilandcotton.com
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