Goshen County Library Group provides place for creative teens to meet and explore

January 6, 2019

TORRINGTON, Wyo. — There’s an imaginary line where a child with creative tendencies transitions into adulthood. They may avoid eye contact, or consider themselves shy or socially awkward — especially during the formative years of adolescence.

However, history is littered with examples of famous artists who were not without their own remarkable eccentricities — fires that were stoked from the embers of an inquisitive child.

Every Thursday afternoon, in a room inside the Goshen County Library, the Charcoal and Quill Guild provides a safe environment with activities for creative teens to interact, explore and foster that creativity.

Library employee Helen Pugsley said her own experience as a teenager led her to organize the program.

“My friends and I were very creative,” she said. “We were always sort of the odd kids in the corner, drawing and writing.”

Pugsley said that because of the creative energy in her circle of friends, she found courage and began entering her writing in poetry contests. By the time she was 20-years-old, her first book had been published.

“The publisher who published that book took me seriously because I’d done the work, so I wanted to do something to give the kids more of that background,” she said.

The guild’s participation fluctuates between three to four regular members, Pugsley said. However, on a recent Thursday night, 14-year-old Brandon Stone — who describes himself as “an outcast” — was the lone member present, due to the busy holiday season.

Stone clutched a pencil case with his newest acquisition — Torrington Office Supply gave Stone a set of markers which double as airbrushes — part of a “pay-it-forward” program.

“They were very nice to do that,” Stone said.

His older sister had brought him along to a guild activity shortly after it was founded nearly two years ago, and he has been going ever since. As he flipped through his sketchbook showing off sketches of Nintendo characters and original drawings, he told stories. In his imagination, the origins of the characters he creates are on a parallel to his own; each resonates with a small slice of his personality.

Stone hopes that someday his talent and style will lead him into his dream career as a professional animator.

Pugsley said the activities for the teens can vary from week to week, from making “black-out poetry” from pages of discarded library books rummaged from the library foundation’s book sales, to painting t-shirts onto cheap dollar-store plastic dinosaurs. From time to time, the works of the guild are displayed in the library for patrons to view. The library also hosts a number of shows throughout the year to display art made by the teens.

“It’s nice to show the community that there are teenagers out there doing this,” Pugsley said. “It’s nice to give them that opportunity so that people like Brandon can go off and have something backing them when they started out.”

For parents, Pugsley said, the guild provides peace of mind.

“It’s a safe place for them to hang out and meet each other,” she said. “Their parents don’t have to worry about them being out in the streets and making trouble.”

“And people can’t make fun of us for being socially awkward,” Stone added with a grin. “I know a lot of people who are socially awkward and they’re really good artists.”

Through interacting with each other, Pugsley said she hopes the teens will branch out and recruit others who they feel might find a place to grow.

“They are all into something different,” she said. “We’ve had video editors, and people who are into writing and drawing and poetry.”

Pugsley said she also invites adult artists to give a presentation to the kids. Her goal is to have a guest artist present once a month — from hobbyists who find the time in their schedules — to professionals who exclusively make art for a living.

The Charcoal and Quill Guild meets every Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Goshen County Public Library.

For more information, contact Pugsley at 307-532-3411.

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