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: Pam Longobardi
Where do you work and what do you do?
I work in coastal zones and nearshore sites around the world documenting and collecting vagrant ocean plastic. These material artifacts are the legacy of the late capitalist world, and are invading the natural world and human and animal bodies with their presence. I transform oceanic plastic into installations and photography. My work provides a visual statement about the engine of global consumption and the vast amounts of plastic objects and their impact on the world’s most remote places and its creatures, and is framed within a conversation about globalism and conservation.
When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
As a child I was always making things, sometimes transforming my whole bedroom into a kind of installation with drawings and rubber animal toys hanging from strings all over the ceiling. I have always been interested in the natural world, so worked as a scientific illustrator, but realized fine art was much more challenging and brought more to the table for me. I have been working as a serious artist since my early twenties.
What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a marine biologist and work on Jacques Cousteau’s ship, to do work that combined exploration and discovery with the most challenging natural environment. But then I realized that my form of creativity didn’t fit well in a scientific career, so I channeled those interests and curiosities into my artwork.
If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I think it would be interesting to talk with Dian Fossey, she was the gorilla researcher who laid down her life to protect the gorillas of Rwanda, and was ultimately murdered by the poachers. She died protecting what she loved.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
Probably my father. He challenged preconceived notions about how to live a life. He was a huge risk-taker, constantly reinventing himself. He started as a biochemist, becoming a stock broker, founding a rock climbing school in his 60’s and carried on climbing into his 80s. He never let age be a barrier, and he was eternally optimistic.
How is art a passion for you?
Art asks and answers questions that nothing else can. It manifests thought into a tangible form, and that is an incredible source of wonder. I’m interested in the function of beauty as a human endeavor. I think the beautiful is a challenging thing, because the truly beautiful has a darkness to it, an overcoming of challenge and trauma. We can see this is regenerative power of the natural world, it fights for itself.
What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
The world needs all of its artists now, as a creative force to blown down the destructive power structures still in place.
Women artists of every ethnicity need an elevated platform for their work, and for their work to be valued in equity. If we as a species are to undergo a necessary transformation, women will continue to rise in leadership and dismantle existing hierarchies. We are beginning the process culturally of flushing out the hidden abuses and this is a good thing.
What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
It is alive and vibrant. It is evolving and growing with new energy everyday. I am excited by both the younger artists and the seasoned ones who keep pushing their own boundaries. There is so much good energy here, I love the students at GSU and we are supported by a network of artists, curators and art lovers who care about each other.
What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I try to inspire artists to be brave in their work. I personally have taken great risks with my own practice and this has enabled my work to evolve and reach broad audiences. Art has work to do in the world, and it can start right here and now with artists feeling emboldened to challenge societal structures with their work. We are all part of an interconnected universe, and we all have a grave stake in the future of our communities: local and global, human and non-human.
Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
My website is driftersproject.net and on Instagram and Twitter as driftersproject.