By Jen Hitchings

One corner of the Living Gallery at the Loom, 1087 Flushing Avenue, Bushwick

Sure, we have Pratt in Clinton Hill, but what about the concept of alternative education that fits in perfectly with the aesthetic and DIY nature of the Bushwick/Brooklyn arts scene? Here are 5 of our favorite Brooklyn institutions that offer education without binding yourself to a 4-year, debt-inducing degree program.

#1 The Living Gallery

This past Sunday, the Loom in Bushwick was teeming with enthusiastic artists, musicians, and the like who chose to put the April Fooleries on hold as the Living Gallery opened its doors to the public for the first time with the group show BORN. Nyssa Frank, the curator and director of the Living Gallery, transformed the space from a jungle of sculptures and debris into what is now a hub for anything from live music to densely curated art shows to an alternative and quirky classroom.

Nyssa has been contacting the local talent in search of those interested in teaching classes in her new space, for an affordable rate in a comfortable environment. The classes currently being offered are Jewelry Making & Mimosas, Drawing from Observation, Children’s Mask Making,  Canvas Stretching, Paper Making, Comic Illustration, and more. Nyssa’s vision is to offer the community an accessible, affordable, and fun way to learn and meet the talented individuals that inhabit this booming neighborhood. I highly suggest stopping in to check out the show that is up at the moment as well as reading up on the details of each class and considering signing up for one!

#2 3rd Ward 

3rd Ward on Morgan Avenue has been expanding at an unbelievable rate since its inception in 2005. They offer over 100 classes on anything from web design to circuitry to language courses for artists. They even have a class on how to make “badass bike lights.” Additionally, 3rd Ward offers various photography studios,  wood/metal/jewelry-making shops, and memberships as well.

#3 Brooklyn Arts Gym

The BAG is well known for its high quality of educators and range of courses. Some offered are DIY printmaking, watercolors, color theory, finding artist opportunities, and oil painting. They even have a non-instructed figure drawing class with a live model.

#4 Vaudeville Park

Located off the Graham stop on the L train, Vaudeville Park has been offering workshops in addition to consistently putting on shows of all kinds for the past few years. At the moment, the non-profit venue is hoping for enough interested participants to propose workshops in order to begin offering them regularly again. One hopeful program is a summer band camp for young children.

#5 Brooklyn Brainery

When speaking about alternative education, a mention to Brooklyn Brainery is a must. Despite being located in Carroll Gardens, it is worth the commute from Bushwick. The Brainery is a community-driven hub of teachers and students who simply want to learn something new for the cost of a few Williamsburg iced-coffees. Some classes include American History, Weird Spices, Calligraphy, How to Make Menthol Candy Cigarettes, Songwriting, and How to Find the Perfect Rental (I think we can all benefit from this one especially.)