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Cultivating community through accessible arts experiences for all. 


I Love Monster 'Christmas'!

I’m going to start right away by saying that I know what you’re thinking. As the ZACC’s Official Holiday Elf I should know more than anyone that ‘those’ holidays don’t start until after Halloween. It’s only October, have I lost it? But let me be clear. I’m not here to talk about that holiday, I’m here to talk about MONSTER ‘Christmas’! You may know it as the Missoula Monster Project, but over the years it’s become my favorite kickoff to the holiday season.

This year is the 8th Annual Missoula Monster Project, and I’ve had the pleasure of working at the ZACC for the last five of those eight years. When I started, the ZACC was still on Missoula’s Northside and my title was Operations Manager. At the time that meant that Tuesday through Saturday I was manning the little front desk right inside our front door – which also meant that I got to meet almost every single adult artist when they came to drop off their monster for the next few years. It became such a treat that I started referring to the drop-off deadline day (when we receive the most monsters in one go) as Monster ‘Christmas’.

Monster ‘Christmas’ requires the help of many folks, but I want to take the time to give attention to two specific groups – the adult artists and Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS). The adult artists in this town truly help make the Missoula Monster Project happen. The MMP is a fundraiser for youth arts programming, so all adults who sign up to participate in the monster project agree to donate 100% of the proceeds from the sale of their work. This means for the last eight years we’ve had upwards of 300+ adults sign-up (each year!) to donate their time, materials, and creative energy to help ensure that Missoula’s youth get access to the arts and arts education.

And of course there’s our incredible partner in this endeavor, MCPS. As a second generation born and raised Missoulian, and product of the Missoula County Public School system, I’m always excited to see public displays of art from the school systems. As a child, we only had the annual mall show for visual arts, but I always felt so proud to be able to go and see my work in a public place and know others could do the same. As an adult, I love to be a part of something that allows other kids to have those same feelings of joy and accomplishment. Shoutout to this year’s monster lesson teachers – Candice, Kammi, and Ariea – for helping carry on the vision and helping inspire the kids to make such amazing pieces of art.

Come help us celebrate the 8th Annual Missoula Monster Project, and all these wonderful people, and join us for this year’s MMP Opening on First Friday October 7, from 5–8 PM. I mean, it’s not corn, but honestly I can’t really imagine a more beautiful thing (if you know, you know).

Can’t wait to wear my monster visor,

Heather Stockton
ZACC Director of Operations & Official Holiday Elf

Artist Ann Karp of Sideways Gaze
  • Kia Liszak, ZACC Executive Director

    We believe in the power of the arts to create the human connections, innovations, and healing to make significant positive change in our world and our community, and the ZACC’s programs serving youth, veterans, families, and seniors are on the forefront of that change.

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