Swap. Meet.

Only at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center could community service look this good and be this much fun.

On March 14, Pyramid hosted its first Swap Party, an afternoon of trading art materials and professional dress accessories to benefit two very good causes. The funds raised will support art and education programs at Pyramid, and all surplus accessories will be donated to an as-yet-to-be-determined area non-profit serving low-income women. 


Since 1981, the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center has been enriching the lives of local artists and the wider community through printmaking, papermaking and book arts. To achieve its goals of artist development, arts education, and community engagement, Pyramid Atlantic hosts classes and workshops for artists of all ages and levels of experience. Its facility on Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring features a paper mill, print shop, letterpress studio and bindery. The Center also curates art exhibits locally and around the world.

Before I even hit Pyramid’s front door, I knew I was about to enter a world bursting with creativity. The wheels of a giant, kinetic bicycle-inspired sculpture tilted and spun in the wind, and a shiny, pitted metal sculpture shepherded me along the path to Pyramid’s bright red building.

Once inside, I climbed the stairs with my bag of used accessories and entered a room full of colorful art and large, genuine smiles. Swappers chatted over wine and cheese while admiring the items fellow attendees had brought. These were no ratty hand-me-downs on display: the tables were piled high with bright scarves, sparkling jewelry, belts, purses, paints, brushes, and other supplies for looking good and making great art.

Speaking of the art—this is, after all, at the core of Pyramid Atlantic’s mission—the upbeat mood of the Swap Party was enhanced by the bright, paper-based art adorning the walls. Guests also had the opportunity to go down to the print shop and make art on the spot with their own print projects. (See slideshow below. Click on the photo to move on to the next slide.)

Although I didn’t wind up printing anything that afternoon, I did see a lot of fantastic art, and talked to many wonderful people.

Shirley Sagawa, a collage artist and non-profit management consultant, first started making art at Pyramid twenty years ago. Since joining the Pyramid board six years ago, she’s seen first-hand—and is continually blown away by—how much Pyramid’s committed staff and volunteers are able to accomplish on a limited budget.

Fellow artist and board member Marty Ittner reinforced the supportive nature of Pyramid.

“So much of being an artist is being solitary,” said Ittner, of why Pyramid is such an important “third place” -- that place between work and home where artists gather and share.

“The Power of Pyramid is in the people.”

Check out my rockin' new earrings! 

Check out my rockin' new earrings! 

About the Author: Tara Campbell is a crossover sci-fi writer living in Washington, DC. She volunteers her time for literacy organizations such as 826DC and the Books Alive! Washington Writers Conference. Follow her on Twitter at @TaraCampbellCom.