About Us

Our founder, our philosophy, and our story

Meet Rachel

Rachel Armentano is an art teacher, teacher’s teacher, artist, designer + mama of two living in beautiful Rhode Island.

Twenty years of teaching art in schools, museums, and beyond, mixed with her dedication to public programming and community involvement, led Rachel to open Harbor Creative Arts. 

She was awarded 2015 Rhode Island Middle School Art Educator of the year by Rhode Island Art Education Association during her 7 years teaching art for grades 6-9 at Rocky Hill Country Day School in East Greenwich, RI. There she focused on building classroom culture and confidence in her art room, facilitating interdisciplinary connections through art, art-integrated project-based learning, as well as making service learning meaningful throughout the Middle School and greater school community. Her previous K-8 teaching experience includes the Framingham Public Schools and the Edward Brooke Charter School Network in Boston. In addition to teaching in schools, Rachel has worked as a museum educator, visiting artist, and family programs facilitator at the Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Danforth Museum. She was the founding Co-Education Director for Minni Space, a children’s design studio in the South End of Boston where she trained teachers and authored the core program curriculum. For many years Rachel spoke annually to the senior art majors at Curry College as they prepared for graduation. She also leads professional development workshops for art educators, is a facilitator for the Collaborative for Education, and recently presented at the National Art Education Association Convention and Rhode Island Art Education Association Conference.

From 2012-2017, she owned and operated a custom wedding stationery design studio, Harbor Stationery, featuring modern calligraphy, watercolor, and custom illustration. She is an avid volunteer and board member of Amenity Aid.  As a mother to two young children, Rachel’s home is filled with just as many art materials as her classroom!

B . S . Skidmore College // M . A . T . Tufts University + School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 

You can read a note from Rachel about opening the new studio here.

To contact please email: harborcreativearts@gmail.com

How long have you been open?

The shortest story:

HCA opened as a brick and mortar studio in North Kingstown, Rhode Island in December 2020. From December 2020 to May 2021 the studio was housed in a tiny 600 square foot building next to Wickford Middle School. In June the studio moved a mile down the road to its current location, a 1500 square studio at 7592 Post Road. The first summer in the studio was a balance of setting up the studio, some art camp sessions, and sprinkles of pop-up classes. A full schedule launched in September 2021. HCA Outside was built throughout the spring of 2022 and opened in June.

The medium story:

On March 5th, 2020 after 7 years of planning and testing for Harbor Creative Arts, Rachel gave her notice to leave her teaching position at the end of the 2019-2020 school year with the intention of opening a studio that summer. The next week the world shut down due to the arrival of Covid 19. She took a deep breath, held it in for a long time, finished out her school year remotely with 2 and 4 years olds at home, and in July offered herself the space and grace to put the whole plan on hold. The next day a friend asked if she would be interested in teaching art classes outside that summer, maybe on her deck. Just one month later she was teaching art to multiple small groups of kids a week and continued to teach 50-70 children a week in backyards, garages, parks, and more that fall of 2020 right up until Thanksgiving. Trusting her intuition and foreseeing the need for safe indoor programming that winter she opened up a small studio in the thick of the pandemic in December 2020 due to the need for in-person programming for those who felt safe participating. 

The longer story: 

Harbor Creative Arts was founded by and is currently operated by Rachel Armentano. While teaching middle school at a local private school, Rachel would fill notebooks with her idea for HCA. It was the dream of a place where she could bridge all of her experiences working in schools, museums, partner with community organizations, and apply her skills as a designer, professional development facilitator, mentor, and project and education consultant. For years leading up to this, in her spare time, she attended business classes and networked. Rachel worked out a proof of concept for Harbor Creative Arts by hosting pop-up art classes & art making events at local coffee shops and businesses on weekends, vacations, and afterschool. When she finally reached the point of practicing her business pitch with anyone she talked to she knew she was ready to give it a go full time.

What may look like an art teacher who just wanted to teach art on her own is actually a hefty, well-researched, well-edited plan, documented in a stack of diagram-filled sketch/notebooks and in discussions with handfuls of other business owners and educators. The growth in the first year was astounding. This past year we were able to renovate the studio and create an ideal space for our unique arts programming and community. As we start 2024, HCA hosts 100-170 children a week on average! The studio is currently managing this growth spurt and preparing ways to serve as many children and families as possible. 

Our Teaching Philosophy

 Harbor Creative Arts is dedicated to providing an inspiring space, nurturing families, and cultivating a community. Classes introduce students to a variety of materials and techniques while encouraging individual exploration and outcomes. Most projects are very layered literally and figuratively, mixed-media based, and incorporate connections to artists, periods, social issues, and enhance social emotional skills. Students of all abilities and learning styles are welcome.

Harbor Creative Arts provides (primarily but not limited to) visual arts programming for toddlers through tweens. Weekly classes explore a theme of the week, ranging from “pop art” to “penguins” to “portraits”. Siblings of different ages love to compare projects with what their older/younger family members create that week exploring the same theme. Three main types of programs have been established: weekly Little Artists classes for ages 2-5, weekly Afterschool Art Classes for grades K-8, and themed workshops and camps that are held on weekends, for holiday celebrations, and during school vacations. Other programs occur sporadically as scheduling continues to progress, such as free/donation-based “smART storytime” events featuring a read aloud and creative activity while highlighting a social emotional concept and local non-profit for the donation, and “Little Musicians”, a toddler music class taught by an experienced local musician and children’s performer. Harbor Creative Arts is special because collaborative, open-ended activities that encourage problem solving and empathy for others are incorporated into every arts class or program session. The goal is for these creative learning experiences to inspire students to apply these skills and interests beyond the studio.

Harbor Creative Arts programs:

  • Encourage students to observe and interpret the world critically.
  • Expose students to artists of all colors and nationalities.
  • Include a variety of materials and techniques.
  • Encourage personal choice and voice.
  • Encourage empathy, collaboration, and confidence.
  • Involve critical thinking, creative problem solving, and reflection.

Currently, all art class curriculums are designed + taught or co-taught by Rachel Armentano.

The Harbor Creative Arts blog and social media feeds provide ideas, tips + confidence for how to integrate art into your, your family’s, or your students’ lives whether you are an avid artist, art viewer, or just open to the idea of having more art in your life.

Stay tuned for more lesson plans for art classes and any classroom, team building activities, open-ended art prompts, tips and suggestions on art supplies for young and old, and places to go experience art.

The studio continuously supports and advocates for not only other arts and education organizations, but also local initiatives promoting diversity, equity, and social service assistance.

Harbor Creative Arts is a proud supporter of:

Amenity Aid – Rhode Island for Community & Justice – AS220 Youth Studio – AMOR Network RI

Towards an Anti Racist North Kingstown – Families Belong Together

National Public Radio – Blessings in a Backpack – Children’s Friend – Foster Forward

& is a community partner to the North Kingstown Office of Family Learning

Honors & Accolades

2023 Best of Rhode Island for Art Classes

2022 Best of Rhode Island for Little Artists Classes

2022 Awardee for Take It Outside Grant for HCA Outside

2021 Awardee for Take It Outside Grant for HCA Outside
Rhode Island Department of Commerce and North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce

2015 Rhode Island Middle School Art Educator of the Year
Rhode Island Art Education Association