Mission and story

Our mission is to build a more just and equitable world through community-led creativity and entrepreneurship.

At ArteSana we foster a culture of equality that affirms the power of each person’s agency in creating change in their own lives and communities.  We don’t have clients or beneficiaries - we have only partnership - everyone we work with is a cocreator and collaborator, be it staff, volunteer, ESOL student, or part of the creative workshops community. Together we envision a more equitable world, and change narratives that undermine the abilities of those systemically disadvantaged to lead and succeed. Through creative audacity and community leadership, we redefine the limits of what’s possible.

How we got started

ArteSana Inc. had its beginnings in a 2013 program for immigrant parents in Holyoke Public Schools. It then became a community-based weaving project known as Tejo Holyoke, before finally incorporating as a non-profit with the name ArteSana in 2016. ArteSana is now a 501c3 non-profit organization.

At the start of it all, founder and director Katy Moonan was in her first job out of college teaching ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and running Family Literacy programming for parents of Holyoke Public Schools students, under the employ of Reader to Reader Inc. Humbled by the strengths and talents of the parents in her classes and moved by the friendships they had forged, Katy grew committed to expanding the educational, creative and economic opportunities available to adults living in disinvested communities in Holyoke. Having experimented with integrating different creative activities into the parent program, including weaving, she then set out to start an independent weaving project that could serve as a community space and source of creativity, with the dream that one day it could become a small business capable of offering more opportunities. Three years later, under her leadership and through the collective dedication of many incredible volunteers and collaborators, it has grown into ArteSana.

Behind our name

Artesana means female artisan in Spanish, and this word also contains two words within it - arte meaning art and sana meaning heals - which together express art heals. This perfectly reflects our core belief in the importance of art and creativity in social transformation. In choosing a Spanish word for our name we seek to honor the rich artistic and cultural heritage of Latin America and the Caribbean, and celebrate the profound contributions of Latinx community members to the cultural vitality of our own region.