Atlanta has a strong and growing creative economy. Everyday, we meet women who are on the ground working to break down barriers, build community, inspire, inform, and entertain the people of Atlanta through the arts.
For National Women’s History Month in March, C4 Atlanta will be curating a Leading Lady blog series celebrating the women in the creative economy of Greater Atlanta. Over the last several weeks, we have asked the public to nominate women in the creative sector who inspire and have positively impacted the Atlanta community through their contributions.
We are proud to introduce the Next Leading Lady for March 2018: Lisa Tuttle
Where do you work and what do you do?
Last September, I packed up my studio at the Arts Exchange in Grant Park after 21 years. I plan to have a new space in the new ArtsXchange in East Point which is scheduled to open in June, 2018. My work is interdisciplinary, often lens-based and mixing mediums. I produce objects, installations and public art projects.
For the last fifteen years, I have been a public art administrator for Fulton County Arts & Culture. I work as part of team that oversees the commissioning, installation and conservation of original works of art by Georgia artists for public buildings in Fulton County, such as libraries, senior centers, government offices, art centers and health facilities.
When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I have been an exhibiting artist, as well as a curator, gallery director and public art administrator for over 35 years. Although always interested in the arts, through literature, film, some art classes, and theater, I didn’t formalize my interest in the visual arts until college.
What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
As a child, I knew I wanted to do something creative, and somehow involved with writing, as my first passion was reading. We had that card game of Authors, and my father delighted in the fact that I knew them all at age 6. My favorite section in the library were the biographies. My father was a journalist and emmy-winning television news director; my mother was an English major at Agnes Scott, so conversations about books and current events were always part of dinner table discussions. My parents were also politically progressive, unusual among my Southern neighbors, and my mother was an active community and church volunteer leader, so civil rights and social justice were tenets of our beliefs.
If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Harriet Tubman (or Elizabeth Cady Stanton) and I’d want to hear first-hand stories about their lives.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
Probably my parents. My father always encouraged me to express myself, and my mother was a strong believer in women as leaders. In my adult life, I have also been influenced by many others in the Atlanta and wider arts communities.
How is art a passion for you?
Growing up and in school, I had so many interests that, finally art seemed to be the place that was elastic enough that all of those could come to bear – whether it was feminism, social justice, quantum physics, french literature, or how my grandmother sewed. Once I claimed the title of “artist”, I’ve been committed to staying in the field. I often say that I am the very best version of myself when I am in the studio
What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
Years ago, I brought the Guerilla Girls to Atlanta to speak, and I keep their poster, “The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist” in my studio. Keeping an eye on who leads the large budget organizations, which artists are collected, the comparative prices of the art stars will always be necessary. I do think things continue to change for the better, but it is an ongoing struggle. When Dr. King told us that the arc of history bends toward justice, we can understand the trajectory of the suffragettes, women’s liberation to the Me Too! And Time’s Up! movements.
What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The openness to possibility. Accessibility of others. And the growth of numerous opportunities like MOCAGA Working Artist Project Grant, Artadia, Creative Capital, SouthArts, Hudgens Prize….when I was working with the original Arts Festival of Atlanta, we hosted the only temporary installation program in the city, and ventured for several years into urban interventions with City Site Works. Now, public art – both permanent and temporary – has grown exponentially with Art on the Beltline, Flux Projects, ACP, Living Walls, Elevate, Hambidge’s Field Experiments, etc. In addition to the City of Atlanta and Fulton County’s programs, surrounding municipalities have established public art initiatives, like Roswell, Sewanee, Duluth, Sandy Springs, and farther afield, Athens. They look to Atlanta for expertise and artists.
What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I love to collaborate. For years, as a curator and arts administrator, I have worked to create programs, exhibitions and opportunities for Atlanta artists to operate on the same level as any one in the country. As a curator and public art administrator, I love to partner with and nourish accomplishment in other artists. I also have been a strong arts advocate over the years, and hope that I am contributing to an arena and an Atlanta reputation that helps others succeed.