Burgeoning artists grasp colorful bouquets of used packaging and crumpled paper as they gather in the 1,200-square-foot studio. The room reverberates with strains of Spanish guitar or the honey-like smoothness of Nina Simone and Dean Martin. Karla Caprali stands in the center, explaining composition and balance as students mold their castoff items into freestanding sculptures. Similar displays of inventive creation characterize the Art Academy at Caprali Studio, where owner and artist Karla limits the size of each of her classes, allowing her to shower students with the proper amount of encouragement and constructive critiques. Karla maintains her class sizes even when instruction spills out into her studio backyard, where pupils breathe in open air as they hone woodworking skills, orchestrate large-scale installations, or quickly sketch a cloud shaped like a fruit bowl.
Karla brings knowledge accrued at a university in São Paulo to each course and draws from influences including the impressionists, Salvador Dali, Dorothea Tanning, and the whimsical film sets of Georges Méliès. Her emphasis on developing new approaches to art has helped students in portfolio-preparation courses earn admission to Pratt, SVA, and other prestigious schools without having to defeat Monet's ghost in Pictionary. The instructor also worked to help found the Falls Arts District, which launches bimonthly art walks to 15 privately owned galleries. On such nights, Karla clears her studio space to put students' work on display alongside her own paintings and installations, and transforms the ample backyard into an outdoor gallery bathed in the glow of decorative lights and vocal reviews from local owls.