The husband and wife are the founders of Cely’s House – an art institution offering classes in a wide range of artistic disciplines to the people of Chapel Hill.
Founded in 1988, Cely’s House runs out of the Chicurels’ home and hosts everything from birthday celebrations to summer camps. Cely Chicurel, a former production potter and art enthusiast, runs the main operation while her husband helps to schedule and organize the institution’s events.
This summer, Cely’s House will host six weeks of summer camp for about a dozen children in the area, with the goal of introducing them to different art styles and theory.
“It’ll be a very full summer,” Cely said. “(Cely’s House) is kind of an old-timey type of camp, but we’re doing all types of crafts. I try to offer as many different media as I can.”
Cely said her love of arts and crafts began with her first camp experience and how creative she felt like it allowed her to be. She said fostering that same sense of accomplishment with people has always been exciting to her.
Bill Chicurel said the years the couple has devoted to making Cely’s House a well-rounded artistic organization have made both him and Cely true professionals.
“We’ve pretty much perfected it,” he said. “We sort of improve each year as far as most things go, but it’s always been such an enjoyable thing.”
In addition to being what Cely Chicurel refers to as the bookkeeper for the organization, Bill Chicurel also teaches piano at the couple’s home. He said in the years since the couple has started teaching the community, they have seen many of the children they first taught grow up and move out into the world.
“We almost feel like grandparents in a way,” Bill Chicurel said. “We’ve started seeing a second generation come through here whose parents were kids of ours, and some of them are now even helping us out.”
During July the camps will feature guest lectures from artist Beatrice Ruggeri, who will help educate students about Italian artists.
“I’m focusing more on the visual arts and some of the great Italian painters,” she said. “It’s easy for kids to see the art, but I try and really get them to think about what these artists really meant. I like to introduce them to why these people are important as well as what they did.”
After relocating from Italy about two years ago, Ruggeri settled in Chapel Hill and made contact with Cely Chicurel after hearing about her group. Since then, the two have collaborated on various workshops and projects.
“(Cely Chicurel) is an amazing artist and very talented,” Ruggeri said. “Her way and approach with children and family is very similar to mine. At the beginning of every workshop, she really works to make everyone feel comfortable.”
Cely Chicurel said the memories she has created from running the summer camps have been incredibly rewarding and that kids get a great deal from the exposure.
“When I see how they’ve grown and their confidence at the end, that always makes me excited,” she said. “Everyone is able to take something from it.”