How idiomART has Mastered Space and ExperienceCuenca Expats Magazine Issue 42

By Daniel Williams
Photos courtesy of IdiomArt

As the owner of an ever-expanding community center, Sarah Hanenbauer has changed the way idiomART’s supporters experience culture. She approaches the concepts of community and collaboration by thinking beyond the typical food-and-drink meetups and embraces the wild realm of imaginative possibilities. IdiomART is an amplifier for creative ideas. From Sufi twirling workshops to environmentally conscious tours in the Andean Highlands, this creative sandbox has become a nexus of artistry within our community.

How idiomART has Mastered Space and Experience

June 8 will mark idiomART’s one-year anniversary at its new location on Mariscal Lamar and Estevez Toral. In order to celebrate what they’ve become, I’d like to delve into the past and briefly share how this space’s transformation has helped me and many other artists develop our careers. IdiomART has changed immensely over the past few years. When I arrived in Cuenca in 2017, I was an inexperienced artist with no real audience or direction. Sara Coppler and Kathy McCullough, the founders of the center, had recently moved idiomART to its second location. We worked from a colorful and cramped duplex on the fringe of El Centro. It functioned as a coworking space, and much like now, on any given visit you’d encounter various types of artists.

The inconspicuous center was teeming with energy and potential. This cluttered little space holds a special place in my heart because it provided me with the opportunity to start teaching and sharing recipes for self-expression to a group of excited young learners. Months later, I helped Kathy and Sara move two blocks down the road to their new location, a two-story house with a beautiful garden.

How idiomART has Mastered Space and Experience

There was now enough space for private art studios, outdoor concerts, and a small gallery. During this time, Sara Coppler passed the torch to Sarah Hanenbauer, who made it her mission to expand the open-armed, public-based approach that lies at the heart of idiomART’s mission. This venue and its residency program attracted a revolving door of traveling artists, authors, musicians, and even drag queens.

My artist’s residency at idiomART provided me with my first tangible sense of community, and the feeling of empowerment behind displaying vulnerable concepts. After a period of dormancy and uncertainty during the pandemic, the community center has made a bold and explosive recovery. They’ve relocated to a larger property, complete with ample studio space and a reverberant atrium for musical and theatrical performances. IdiomART is more active than ever. Starting in June, Sarah will be collaborating with art director Ximena Moscoso from Museo Pumapungo and la Dirección Municipal de Cultura to curate more immersive and conceptual art experiences.

How idiomART has Mastered Space and Experience

Sarah is already bridging the gap between expatriate communities and Cuencanos with her platform by connecting diverse artists and patrons.

Her goal is to keep providing quality experiences that foster growth for Ecuador’s arts industry, including the classes that are frequently offered by idiomART’s prolific residents. IdiomART continues to host a wealth of life-changing events, adventures, and courses. When you attend an event at idiomART, you’ll find yourself in a sublimely unique experience, in a surreal space surrounded by amazingly creative people.