'Pom poms for the world': Regina artist spreads joy, one fuzzy creation at a time
If you find a pom pom in an unexpected place in Regina, Lorena Leal probably had something to do with it
Lorena Leal is always making something for someone — but often she never finds out who.
Her personal style is accented by her creations: round beaded earrings, a budding red necklace and a jacket embellished with stitched vines growing pom poms.
She always has pom poms.
In fact, she looks at most people, places and things as an opportunity to add a pom pom into the world. Pom poms are what she loves to create most.
She said she is drawn to the fluffy globes because they remind her of nature (and The Muppets).
"From the moon, to the sun, to the stars, to people's eyes, to the words that come out of your mouth," Leal said, staring at a pile of colourful yarn. "I like to keep it very youthful and pom poms are youthful and there's no age or limit!"
Leal often makes pom poms and leaves them in unexpected places for people to find and keep, whether its a bush in the city, a person's purse or a mailbox.
"I've seen squirrels take pom poms off my trees and put it on their head like a pillow, or a hat," she said, giggling. "So I've done my job! I've even put pom poms in people's purses without them knowing … now you know who it's from. This lady!"
Leal said she usually travels with yarn and her pom pom maker. Just in case.
Pom poms punctuate month-long art pop up
This week you'll find Leal and her supplies at Eden Care Communities' Making Our Mark Art Exhibition and Pop Up Open Studio.
Crystal Massier, Community Enrichment Specialist with Eden Care Communities, helped to transform an old dance studio in Regina's warehouse neighbourhood into an artist's playground.
"Everybody has their own way of making a mark," said Massier. "Just having access to a space that's wheelchair accessible has allowed us to have people from all different backgrounds come and just enjoy it and have a moment out of their day to be creative."
Sculptures, paintings, drawings, wind chimes and pom poms fill several rooms at 1363 Rose Street. They are the colourful fruits of labour from artists living at three of Eden's integrated and intergenerational housing and healthcare locations in the city.
This is Eden's second annual art exhibition. Last year it consisted of a single day. This year, thanks to a grant, Massier and the Eden Care Communities' team transformed the community-minded idea into a month-long event.
Each week from April 9 to 27, artists like Leal have spent time in the space teaching the public to create something during free, week-long workshops.
"We've gotten a lot of feedback [from the public] that this is really great," said Massier. "And from our own people, who have been working as artists in the studios, we've gotten a lot of feedback that it's really great to have a place to come and create."
An old ballet studio in the back of the building has served as a maker's studio. Lively music fills the space as people drop-in each day.
"I think I'm hooked," said Sheila Jozsa, a pom pom pupil of Leal's who popped by.
Workshops included one focused on pattern-making taught by a local high school student living in affordable housing, one on creating recyclable paper (for Earth Day) and, of course, pom pom making.
For artists like Leal, it's a chance to spread joy in the world.
"There's no money involved. I think it's just important to bring out humanity in people. Every person deserves to express themselves if they're mad, or sad, and to be noticed," she continued, holding up a fuzzy sphere.
"One pom pom is a person. You are here for a reason. I think they're just a way of showing kindness and beauty and opening up."