Express Yourself at the Women’s Center for Creative Work

Artwork by Women's Center for Creative Work member Ashley Kang

Artwork by Women’s Center for Creative Work member Allison Connor.

ELYSIAN VALLEY—Right along the LA River, just off the bike path in Elysian Valley, lies one of the city’s most vital resources.

Not a nature preserve or a historical museum, but it just as important to the community, the Women’s Center for Creative Work (WCCW) is a nonprofit organization that supports local, female-driven projects and businesses through a series of monthly events.

Since the WCCW first opened in May 2015, those events have run the gamut from the spiritual to the professional, including creative workshops, yoga classes, comedy shows, art galleries, and professional development classes.

Each new season, the programming committee decides on a new artistic theme, which is then interpreted and applied to the upcoming schedule of activities. This season’s theme is magic.

For programming like tarot readings and art galleries, that’s fairly easy to apply, while others are more interpretive, like one workshop in April that taught the “magic” of automotive repair and the basics of the combustion engine.

Girl Crush, the center’s resident improv comedy troupe, recently put on an hour-long show in which the central sketch focused on a young couple’s visit to The Magic Castle.

When not performing themselves, the group uses the space to teach improv comedy to newcomers. Sallie Merkel, one of Girl Crush’s core members, sees the space as an alternative to the expensive, male-dominated improv schools in the city.

“[Those schools] can be predominantly white men teaching in the classes,” said Merkel. “We’ve been able to create a space here that offers affordable improv classes and is predominantly not white men.”

However, the center’s activities are open to everyone unless otherwise noted.

The center is also the permanent home of the Feminist Library on Wheels, a mobile collection of feminist books distributed via bicycle.

Meanwhile, an in-house print lab allows artists to print or photocopy their work to be showcased in art galleries at the space.

WCCW volunteer Leana Scott said she hopes the workspace will be a starting point for other centers like it.

“What I would like to see, and what I think others would like, is an expansion out of northeast L.A.,” said Scott. “The hub would be here, but the impact would extend elsewhere.”

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