Author: Chelsea Steverson

Miranda Kyle Sets Fire to Barriers Because Art is Never Separate

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 2020 : Miranda Kyle

 

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am the Program Manager of Arts and Culture for Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) and curate the annual Art on the Atlanta BeltLine Public Art Exhibition. I support the department of Design and Construction to incorporate art into park and trail design, engage developers to consider public art in their construction, and advise on secondary design elements like benches and future transit stops. Additionally, I work on interdepartmental collaborations with Community Engagement and Planning by managing relationships with outside arts organizations and institutions such as the National Black Arts Festival, the Woodruff Center for the Arts, Living Walls, Southern Fried Queer Pride, and Artlanta Gallery.

 

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
Art was always used as a problem solving tool in my house growing up. So it was considered just as essential as being able to write well, perform first aid, of solve for x. It was just a part of my toolkit for life, and that was my normal. It wasn’t until I got to college that I was ike…whoa you don’t build a maquette of the inner ear while studying it for anatomy class? You JUST read about it and look at pictures? I felt like other people were learning lopsided.
So I was in college to be a Mythbuster (that isn’t a real discipline, but what I wanted to be so I was studying chemistry) then I took a metallurgy class and went to an iron pour, fell in love, and became a foundry rat.
Being a sculptor allowed me to continuing solving problems through and for space, which lead me to curation, which lead me to my current job. I have curated exhibitions locally and internationally for over a decade, ranging in disciplines from performance to public art., and in a variety of environments.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
Oh man, there was so many different things I wanted to be. I wanted to be a dolphin trainer for a while (was was an emergency veterinary technician for nearly 17 years-how I paid for school/living- so I got to work with them medically just not in the Flipper kind of way), a jockey (I was waaaaay too tall), a circus equestrian (do you see a pattern here?) – I grew up surrounded by animals and riding horses so when I was a kid I just thought my career would be critter-related. I almost went to vet school instead of scad. And of course when I was in highschool I wanted to be a Mythbuster. Art was never it, because art had always been integrated into everything, it never felt separate.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Wilma Mankiller. She was the first female Principle Chief of the Cherokee Nation in the modern era. She was a pioneer for native women’s rights, tribal sovereignty, and healthcare. She was a planner and program manager, and rose to fame by fighting for, and bringing running water to Cherokee homes in the Nation. She won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.
I would love to talk to her about her activism, battling oppressive regimes and what it takes to make lasting change happen.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
I think each season of our lives sees different influential figures. But my mother has by far been the greatest influence on me. From teaching me to listen to trees and bottle feed baby deer, to how to do carpentry and plumbing, my mom is a rockstar. All the cool things about me are because of her.

How is art a passion for you?
It is in everything. The most beautiful art is math and our whole universe is mathematical. Aristotle thought the best we could do as humans is mimic nature. And we do, we make art about big nature around us, the small natures in us, and the spaces in nature we share.
I love those stories we make and share, and I want to elevate them, explode them, and grow them

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
We have so much work to do. And our numbers are so skewed. Even if we see women in leadership roles in the arts-how many are BIPOC? How many are queer, trans or 2spirit? I think there are a lot of allies out their but folks gotta graduate to accomplices. Make and hold space. What does your board look like? Who are the artists you are hiring/commissioning? If you are a curator are you decolonizing and decentering your aesthetic pallet? If you are an artist getting a lot of work, how are you uplifting and supporting talented and skilled artists who are getting overlooked because they don’t have your brand recognition?

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
I like seeing the brave and new conceptual/contemporary work that is starting to emerge. It speaks to a savviness that Atlanta desperately needs. I and THRILLED to see Spelman’s new curatorial curriculum, it is fucking fire and they are gonna graduate an incredible class of brilliant curators and arts admins.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
Setting barriers on fire. I want to make it easier for folks to understand and get consistent and big commission work. Navigating governmental grant systems is a nightmare and very prohibitive for a lot of folks, especially people who do not have a euro-centric arts education. Bias in our processes can really damage accessibility. I want to change that.
I want to leave a legacy for this city and change how the world sees us in terms of public art and our creative class.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
officials:
art.beltline.org
@atlantabeltlineart

personal:
@mirandakyle13

Jaclyn Hofmann Faircloth’s Passion For Atlanta Theater

We are proud to introduce the Next Leading Lady for March 2020 : Jaclyn Hofmann Faircloth

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.

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Georgia Gwinnett College, and I freelance as a Director around town.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
When I was in Elementary School my Mom enrolled us in dance classes. The truth is I was in soccer before that and I was TERRIBLE. So. We tried a different direction. 🙂 The arts were a better fit — dance brought me to cheerleading and then to theatre. I’ve been acting since middle school and teaching/directing since college.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
An actress and a teacher…. I remember I used to sketch out ground plans in my diary of what my own “acting studio” would look like. (Yes, I have always been that nerdy lol)

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
MICHELLE OBAMA… and also, if her Mom, Mrs. Robinson wanted to come, that would be fine too. Honestly, I’d just like to listen to them talk. I love Michelle’s voice. And also, everything she has ever said. Ever. And anytime she tells stories about her Mom in her book, I think “Goals”.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
I don’t think there is any one person. My parents, of course. They have always cheered me on, and taught me a good moral code. I still hear my Mom in my head “treat others as you wish to be treated.” on a daily basis.

Teaching wise: Debi Jordan, my undergrad professor, and Rob Roznowski from grad school. They are such passionate teachers, they inspired my deep love and belief in arts education.

And in ATL Theatre: Anthony Rodgriguez, Ann-Carol Pence, Jeff Watkins, Justin Anderson, and so many others have inspired and taught me along the way.
Finally, my husband: Nick Faircloth. He is one of the most talented artists I know. And he is also one of the kindest, funniest, most incredible people on the planet. So, he is my sounding board and guiding light on a regular basis.

How is art a passion for you?
I have seen how art changes people for the better. From the child in the audience who realizes dreams can come true, to the adult patron learning to see things from another perspective. Anyone who participates in theatre (in any capacity) is practicing empathy on a regular basis. As I tell my theatre appreciation students “it literally makes us better people.”

When teaching, I see my students become more confident before my eyes. I see them realize that their imagination is alive and well. I watch them grow over a semester. And when I’m really lucky, I get to see them transform over four years. I happen to teach the kindest, most joyful students in the world. I cannot take credit for any of that. But because they are so open, their growth is exponential.

It’d be hard not to be passionate about something that produces so many positive outcomes.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I think it’s a work in progress. There seems to be a recognition that we don’t have as many women in leadership roles as man (as many female playwrights, directors, artistic directors, etc). And I have seen some theatre companies working towards remedying the discrepancy. I don’t believe we are there yet. But I am glad it’s a conversation, and I’m glad to see movement in the right direction.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
I love the community itself. Whenever I talk to a friend about moving to ATL, the first thing I tell them is “it’s a genuinely kind theatre community.” People support and love each other. The best example I can think of is happening right now. In the face of a Pandemic there is a group called “Atlanta Artist Emergency Relief Volunteers”. Artists taking care of artists in any way they can. We have all lost work. I don’t know anyone in the industry who didn’t lose *at least* one gig if not many more. But the thought at the forefront of everyone’s brain seems to be “how can we help each other”, “what can I do to make this less painful for someone else”, “how do I show support and lift up those around me”… it’s quite beautiful. And during an otherwise difficult time, it reminds me every day how lucky I am to be here.

Also, THE WORK. We have incredible talent here in ATL. And incredible theatre companies of all shapes and sizes, doing work that blows me away. So, once we are able to open up shop again, that is the other thing I tell people: the work will not disappoint.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
The major contribution I hope to make in the ATL arts community is to introduce the amazing young artists I get to work with. They are our future, and the future is bright.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?

My students theatre club:  @ggcbearlyactors — I’m so proud of them!!!  There are two things you will hear me brag about:  my kids and my students.

Also, if you can donate to https://www.gofundme.com/f/atlartsrelief  and/or any of the amazing professional theatres here in ATL!!!

 

Photo Credit:
Photo 1: HS by Chris Bartelski
Photo 2:  A production of LOVES, LABOURS, LOST I directed at The Shakespeare Tavern taken by Jeffrey Watkins
Photo 3: My Students and I at SETC (selfie by Myles Isreal)

Courtney Brooks Curates Spaces For Artists To Share Their Gifts

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 2020 : Courtney Brooks

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am a full time independent curator and visual artist and currently the first curator in residence for Art on the Atlanta BeltLine.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
Art has always been apart of my life since childhood. From grade school through undergrad, I have participated in multiple studies of art. I became creatively driven to pursue art as a career in 2010.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I knew I would be surrounded in the art world somehow. At one point I wanted to become a interior designer, choreographer or a creative director for music videos.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
If I could have lunch with any woman from history, I would choose my maternal grandmother’s grandmother. I want talk about her feelings, her dreams and upbringing. I want talk about love and being a woman.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
One the biggest influence in my life would be my cousin Chere. I always admire her as a child. She was always a go getter, well traveled, confident woman who love hip hop . Despite hardships, She has encountered, I respect that she always kept her faith and love for herself and family. She has always encouraged me to my best self and is on of my the reasons I relocated to Atlanta.

How is art a passion for you?
Art is a passion for me because it connects people. It helps me connect with myself to and appreciate the process of creating. It is sharing an experience through therapeutic practices.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
Women a made to create. We are capable and qualified to share our vision, our purpose and and experiences. What we offer is powerful, so it is imperative to have equality and representation to influence the next generation.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
Atlanta Art community excites me because the are spaces available to be yourself and supports your efforts as an artist, that is special. Atlanta has a vibe and truly celebrates influencers who are respect the culture.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I want to continue building bridges and creating platforms for artists to share their gifts. Creating dialogue and solutions that impact our communities. Focusing on narratives that not only myself is passion about but other future creatives as well.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
Catch info on upcoming events and current works on www.Cbrooksart.com and Follow @cbrooksart and @journeyofablackgirl on Instagram

Letricia Henson Builds Up Future Generations

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 2020 : Letricia Henson

 Where do you work and what do you do?
I work in the Atlanta Public Schools System as a K-5 Elementary General Music Teacher and Choral Director. I teach children how to sing, perform, play classroom instruments, and provide culturally diverse program opportunities for children.
I have served in APS for 13 years as a Music Educator in the following roles as 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year, former Music Lead Teacher, former Business Manager in the Atlanta Public Schools Honor Chorus and producer of Cultural Arts programming for various schools in the district.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I started singing at the age of 4 in my home church in Morrow, GA. Next, I remember my first experience of being a lead performer in a musical in elementary school when I was in the 5th grade. The experience of the musical allowed me to find my place in the Performing Arts. Also, I have served on several Arts boards such as Out of Hand Theater (presently) and Spivey Hall Education Committee (past ). Additionally, I have served as a member of the Atlanta Opera Chorus for ten years and was apart of the Atlanta Opera’s International Tour of Porgy and Bess in 2008. I have served as music educator for 13 years and my work in the performing arts as a professional has been 15 years.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I had the dream of being the first African American female justice to serve on the Supreme Court in hopes to use my voice to assist the voiceless. I have always had the desire to use my voice to effect change in the world. I am able to effect change every day in my classroom by being a culturally responsive teacher that teaches music in a culturally diverse school.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I would love to have lunch with Ms. Ava DuVernay, filmmaker and film distributor.
Ava DuVernay’s work inspires me and I would love to ask her for advice on my own personal projects.
I would like to know more about ways to build my branding as culturally responsive teacher in the Arts and distribute mini teaching lessons that could bring about change in music classrooms world-wide.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
I have several factors that have been influences in my life. My support system that includes my parents and sister are big factors that inspire me to lead and try new experiences daily in life. Secondly, as an music educator I have been influenced my Mrs. Cynthia Terry, my first Fine Arts Coordinator at APS. Mrs. Terry always told me focus on the needs of the children and everything else will fall in place. Music Education is very hard because funding and support for arts programming in schools change from day to day. These 2 factors (funding and support of arts programming) alone can make work very discouraging for a music teacher. I have learned to focus on the important parts of my life through my family and mentor it continues to inspire me to strive for success daily.

How is art a passion for you?
Art is a passion for me that provides with the opportunity to use my God giving talents.
My gifting in the arts through my singing, stage directing, arts advocacy and love of the arts provide me and my audiences with holistic connection to my abilities as a performing teaching artist
Art is Life and to live is to have the arts around me daily.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I want to see more women and women of color in the creative workforce. As woman that teaches in the creative workforce, I still want to see women and women of color in leadership positions in the creative workforce. As a female teaching artist and woman of color often times both of these criteria are not seen in the leadership roles in the creative workforce. We need more doors to open so that our viewpoint on the arts will be heard and seen for audiences around the world.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
I am most excited about the Arts in Atlanta because we attract talent from around the world to our lovely city. I feel that the Atlanta Public Schools has a prime opportunity and should really work on promoting the arts programs in all of the K-12 schools since we have so much in our city such as the movie studios, recording studios, etc… we are the Hollywood of the South.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I want to contribute to building up the future generations of performing artists that will use their talents to bring about positive creative work in the world. I believe that I have the next greatest talent in my classroom that will bring about change in the world of creative arts.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?

@CEOHEN7 Twitter

@worshipsingerletricia Instagram

Letricia Henson, Performing Arts Teaching Artist Page Facebook

TeMika Grooms Encourages Unheard Voices To Tell Their Stories

Atlanta has a strong and growing creative economy. Every day, 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 first Leading Lady for March 2020: TeMika Grooms

 

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am a fine artist and illustrator working in the Atlanta metro area. I use traditional and digital mediums for visual storytelling as I create illustrations for children’s literature. I really enjoy this genre of art because it allows me to tell stories and animate characters and environments in the confines of a book. It gives me the freedom to explore styles because each story has its own unique voice. This leaves me a lot of room for creative play.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I come from a family of artists. Many of us are musicians, seamstresses, crafters, chefs and visual artists. It is normal for us to have creative tools at our disposal to make something from nothing.

My mother worked as a teacher and a librarian and she encouraged me to be creative. She said I had hands that were too big for my body; She claimed I started drawing at age three. I still have a few handmade books from my childhood. Being regularly exposed to libraries allowed me to see that I could create books too.

As a teenager, I knew I had a natural talent for portraiture. I was blessed to have a phenomenal high school art teacher who advocated for me at every level. Ms. Williams taught me the basics of art and design. She encouraged me to explore many traditional mediums as I developed my own style. I excelled under her teaching and her work laid the foundation of the way I approach art today.

Several years passed while I developed a career as an engineer, became a mother, married and received all sorts of titles. But I still held on to the one title I had before all others – Artist. Reading stories to my daughter as an infant reminded me that I had stories within me, and I could illustrate my own children’s books. My ability to draw people, including children, was an asset I received from my art practice as a child.

But I didn’t know the process and business of visual storytelling for children’s books. I started doing the research. Then came the workshops and conferences. Now I am giving back to other people in the ways that I needed to be nurtured. I teach people the process of creating children’s books, I encourage them to do the work and I reassure them that their stories have value in the world.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a dancer! I started formal classes as a child. I was a decent dancer. Even if I was not the best, what I loved most about it was the immense joy and freedom I felt when I danced. Professional dancing was not my life path, but as an artist I gravitated towards expressive drawings of dancers, faces and the human body. I really enjoyed drawing the human form. As I got a little older, I recognized I had a natural talent for gestural drawing and portraiture.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I recently read a book about Madam C.J. Walker titled “On Her Own Ground” by A’Lelia Bundles. Reading and researching her life showed me the important facts that were omitted by simplifying her life story down to hair styling products. I would love to talk with her about the path she walked to transform her life as a young mother. I would want to know how she built her brand and maneuvered in a competitive and growing market. Most importantly, I’d like to know how she became a wealthy philanthropist that would impact industry and society by owning her own beauty and power as a black woman.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
Hands down the biggest influence on my life would be my own mother. She transitioned a few years ago, but she left lessons to live by in her wake. She taught me how to carry myself professionally and with respect. She showed me that the knowledge I earn is the knowledge I own and I have a responsibility to share it. She showed me how to prepare for the future, to plan and to dare to dream. She taught me how to lift the spirits of others with words and small gestures, because those are the ones that often mean the most. She taught me not to give up on my own creative dreams. With LaVerne Grooms’ lessons in my back pocket, I will continue to strive to be better and teach my own daughters to do the same.

How is art a passion for you?
I am passionate about art because it is the place where my sense of freedom resides. Art is the one place where I can create and have whatever I see in my mind. I don’t have to bend to the whims of others. It is about my own self-expression. If I never sell another piece of art, it won’t matter, because I pay myself my showing up for myself and honoring my own existence.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
There is terrible under-representation of women in most genres of art. Too few women have been catapulted to the level of wide-range name recognition. Talent, skills, and commitment are rarely the reasons for lagging behind men in the creative workforce. I believe the networks that support artistic advancement are keyed into business connections that increase their value in the marketplace. Gatekeepers and door-openers are a real thing.

As an example, gender inequity is clear and evident when you look at the number of women who have won the Caldecott Award, an award for the most distinguished American picture book for children. Even more jarring is the lack of women of color on the list. Why is that? It is not because the talent and skill have not been cultivated. Women producing skillful art should also be chosen to work on projects providing higher level exposure that may positively impact their career. I used children’s literature as an example, but I believe this applies to most art industries as well.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
I believe Atlanta is in an art renaissance. I have been living and working in the metro Atlanta area for 25 years. I’ve seen many changes. But this moment in time feels like municipalities, organizations, corporations and the community are really starting to understand the value of art on society and in the marketplace. Our artists are stepping up to create quality work with meaning to meet the demand. There are so many genres being activated at one time. Not only are we seeing creative work in the traditional visual and performing arts, street art, and multi-media, but the influx of technology research, development and creative thinking are shifting how we perceive art practices. It is really an exciting time to be in this city.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
Atlanta has a rich history and I want to find more ways to engage people in community storytelling. I have hosted many events for community to encourage storytelling through the written word, visual and performance art. In 2018, I partnered with the DeKalb County Library System to create the Lit Story Fest in support of 1000 Books Before Kindergarten which encourages early childhood reading initiatives. I also created the KidsLitATL meetup group to connect and support a diverse group of writers and illustrators of children’s books in Atlanta. On a regional and international level, I work with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the premier organization that provides a network connected to the children’s book market.

I have done this purposeful work with the intent of encouraging unheard voices to step to the forefront and let their stories be heard. I have slowly been building a network around me to amplify our creative existence. In the short-term, my goal is to develop my own publishing company for underrepresented voices in children’s books. My bigger dream includes unearthing stories, many reflecting a southern framework, that can be in books, film and multi-media platforms.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?

Website: http://www.temikatheartist.com/
IG: https://www.instagram.com/temikatheartist/
KidsLitATL: https://www.meetup.com/Atlanta-Children-s-Book-Writers-Illustrators-Meetup/

Jessi Queen Invites Us into Her World of Chalk

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 : Jessi Queen

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am very lucky to get to use both sides of my brain on a daily basis. I am a UX designer and a street chalk artist. During the week I work at Sapient Razorfish in Atlanta and spend time creating complex web and app experiences for large clients such as AT&T, Delta, Bridgestone and more. After work and every weekend I live and breathe chalk. Literally breathing chalk dust… I create large chalk pastel murals on the sidewalks and streets in Atlanta and around the world. This is not your average child drawing. I use specialized street chalk pastels and rhender large, 12ft or more, lifelike portraits. I travel almost every weekend with my family creating art. I co-founded the Georgia Chalk Artists Guild to help encourage and support events all over the southeast. We have over 20 local members as well as out of state/country members.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
Art has always been my north. My mother and grandmother are very talented and have always encouraged me to express my creativity. My oldest sister is an illustrator and was always keeping a sketchbook with her when I was growing up. I looked up to her and when I moved to Savannah, GA at age 10 I was inspired by the city and arts culture there. I attended Savannah Arts Academy and later enrolled at SCAD at the Atlanta campus. I have been in Atlanta ever since and I love this city! In 2007 I participated in and placed in the high school category for the SCAD street arts festival. From that moment on I was hooked. I worked hard to become a professional chalk artist and am now hired to draw at local events and lead workshops at schools and businesses.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I firmly believe that we create our own paths and I have been building on mine for a long time. With that said, I have a timeline of my life that I made in 6th grade. In it I stated that I was going to be a dentist and would have a son and a daughter. It also said I would win in the olympics in a cycling race… I still love biking and am a member of the Atlanta Bike Coalition but never made it into any professional races. I am now an artist/designer and have a husband, infant son and two sweet dachshunds. I love my life so far and would not trade it for anything.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I had an opportunity at a chalk festival recently and was chosen to draw an influential figure from the 1940s. Of course I was led right to Hedy Lamarr. She is an actress and known as “the most beautiful woman in the world.” But in the 1940s, in an attempt to help the war effort, she invented what would become the precursor to many wireless technologies we use today, including Bluetooth, GPS, cellphone networks and more. I love that she was both a talented artist and an influential figure in the tech world.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My biggest influence has been my chalk family. I call them “chalk family” because at every festival I travel to, there are the same people who do the circuit. I have met artists from all over including Italy and Germany. We all learn from one another and explore different techniques. I have met so many people from different backgrounds and am inspired by every one of them. It is fun learning what the Italians do versus Mexican artists etc. They are all the world’s best artists and I aspire to become better because of them.

How is art a passion for you?
I believe everyone is talented but some are more inclined than others to strive towards a goal. Art is my north star and I hope to continue to grow my talent. Without that purpose I would be lost.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
Equality is still a challenge. Those who do not believe it are blind. Being a woman there is an expected way to dress, act and express yourself. The differences are subtle, but they are there. In the office environment you have to really make your voice heard. Mansplaining is a thing and guys who do the same amount of work either have a higher title or get paid more. Some clients do not respond well to a woman’s voice and only listen when a male is present. Chalk art is public and many other females have experienced the same issues. Being on the street, just walking or spending a day drawing; you will get cat called, phone numbers asked, and people will linger and stare. I hope that one day art and design will be appreciated for what it is, no matter the gender of the creator.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The people. There is a growing community of artists and street artists. Our Pop Up chalk festivals have influenced many individuals. Chalk art is a medium that is so easy to get into and people of all ages can participate. It is so awesome to have a grandpa chalking next to a 3 year old, both enjoying the creation process. People see my work and say “Oh I cannot even draw a stick figure”. This phrase makes me so sad because they haven’t tried. I think that anyone can do chalk art and create in this way. I reply “It just takes practice.” and encourage them to join in.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
It is my dream to have a festival in which everyone can just come up and draw, adding to the bigger image. In a way that is a metaphor for life. We are all in a way contributing to the bigger picture. Chalk art is ephemeral and is meant to be shared in the moment. I want to educate the community and encourage future artists by getting on their level and simply drawing on the sidewalk.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
My personal website- www.jessiqueen.com.

Instagram- jessiqueenart

Twitter- jessithequeen

Facebook- jessiqueenart

You can join in the chalking and find events through our organization www.gachalkartists.org and facebook.com/gachalkartists

Julie Skrzypek Knows Her Way Around the Stage

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 : Julie Skrzypek

Where do you work and what do you do?
Julie Skrzypek is an Atlanta-based Collaborator, Director, Producer and Stage Manager. She is also a new and proud Artistic Director of Theatre Buford and Producer for the Weird Sisters Theatre Project. Currently, she is embarking on a world tour with Jonah Bokaer, Daniel Arsham, and Pharrell Williams’s Rules Of the Game which is co-commissioned by SOLUNA International Music & Arts Festival of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, BAM, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, with major presentation support at La Biennale de la Danse de Lyon and the Brisbane Festival, Australia.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I feel like I have always been interested in the arts. For as long as I could remember, I loved telling stories and listening to how other people felt about their lives. Most of my fondest memories where playing pretend as a child, creating worlds and diving into “what if’s.” I’ve actively been in my line of work since 2013.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
Growing up, I thought I would be working in the medical field. Haha, a nurse. It made the most logical sense and I wanted to help people. I’ve always been a humanitarian at heart. Luckily for me, I was gravitated to theatre in this subconscious sort of way. I performed well in theater classes unlike nursing classes and it made me happy.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
If I could have lunch with any woman from history, it would have to be Amelia Earhart, what an incredible woman and human being. What wouldn’t we talk about? I would want nothing more than to listen to her talk about the first time she flew over the ocean, her travels, her passions, her energy and drive to self teach. She lived quite an incredible life. I would tell her about how far aviation has come and how influential she was and continues to be for so many women, past, present and future.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My mother is and continues to be the biggest influence in my life. As a Polish immigrant, she built a life and family for herself that is strong and thick as thieves. My Mom has taught me how to define strength in numerous ways, reinvent and reimagine what it means to be women of culture.

How is art a passion for you?
Art is a passion for me through theater and performing arts. It’s expression and also the lack of expression. It encompasses all things and is an emotion for me. It is imaginative, it is a story. I personally, am fascinated by the way people communicate and connect by telling a story. I am always learning with every production and always challenged as an artist. I am constantly moved and changing with the direction a show takes me. Art and Theatre is constantly encouraging me to grow as a person.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
We are not going anywhere and we have something to say. #timesup

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
It’s continued exponential growth, and the room it brings for continued variation and diversity.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
Female empowerment! I hope to cultivate an environment for artist to take risk and feel supported doing so.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
Producer with The Weird Sisters –

Website: Theweirdsisters.org

Facebook: The Weird Sisters Theatre Project,

Instagram @Weirdsisterstheatreproject

Artistic associate at Synchronicity Theatre –

Facebook: Synchronicity Theatre

Find us online at Synchrotheatre.com 

Founder and co-artistic director at Sylvia Beard Theatre in the Buford Community Center – Bufordcommunitycenter.com

Personal interview with Atlanta Theatre Life on Spotify

Kara Jacobson Wants Everyone to Grow and Shine

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 : Kara Jacobson

Where do you work and what do you do?
Just over a year ago, I founded The Atlanta Dance Academy (TADA). TADA is a dance education and training facility that welcomes all who have a passion or interest in dance. Whether you have never danced before in your life and you’d just like to learn or whether you’re on track to become a professional dancer, TADA has a place for you. I often find myself saying: “TADA is an academy. What we offer is quality, but we’re also TADA! which is fun, warm, and nurturing”. In addition to creating a new space for Atlanta artists to learn, collaborate, and perform, I have launched the TADA Foundation whose goal is to focus on dance education and performance opportunities for those who usually don’t have access. Lastly, I am on the Faculty at Emory University in our School of Public Health. In this role, I conduct research on ways to better inform consumers about health information in a clear, simple way. I am so excited to bridge my passion for public health and dance by offering such programs for those with physical and developmental disabilities as well as focusing on slowing down cognitive and movement disorders by offering dance as a type of physical therapy (e.g., dance for those with Parkinson’s is beginning to show a positive impact on many people’s lives).

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I am from Atlanta, and I began taking ballet when I was 2½. I danced predominately with The Georgia Ballet and Southern Ballet, and I am so grateful for my instructors Iris Hensley and Pittman and Chris Corey. I attended Georgia’s Governor’s Honors program in dance, and I attended Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts. Although I studied dance my entire life, I decided to pursue a career in public health with a focus on the under-served (my research is based at Grady Health System). It’s clear that I have continued to fuel my passion for dance as I have recently been fortunate enough to share this passion with the Atlanta dance community by offering jobs, classes and performance opportunities for so many Atlanta artists, artists in training, and emerging artists. In a nutshell, what I do is bring people together to find the joy in movement. Dance can be a universal language that engages and connects dancers and audiences alike. Dance is culturally diverse and can enrich our communities through its creative art and music.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I never in a million years ever thought I would build a dance studio, but I am grateful for the opportunity. It’s such a perfect fit now to blend my education and training in public health (think movement and physical activity) to dance movement and arts. I love learning and I am always looking for new challenges. This challenge, TADA, will certainly keep me busy for many years.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Wow- so many to choose from. I would start with a dance legend, Isadora Duncan. She seemed to break away from the mold which during the late 1800’s had to be quite rebellious. Ms. Duncan is stated to have craved a different environment with less hierarchy. I would be honored to learn from those like her about their courage and risk taking behaviors. I would like to talk about taking an idea and growing it large enough so that you can have an impact on many individuals’ lives.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
I am certain that I was fortunate enough to have the opportunities that I have today because of my parents. Their guidance and support has enabled me to be exposed to so many diverse opportunities. Without their support of my dance training, college and graduate school, I wouldn’t have the skills and experiences to accomplish what I am doing today. In addition to my parent’s support, they always told me that I could do anything that I set my mind to. It was a “I can” environment rather than a “You can’t” environment.

How is art a passion for you?
Dance is a passion for me because it’s unlike any other form of movement that I have experienced. I have always been an athlete. I grew up dancing, doing gymnastics and springboard diving. I was on the diving team at Emory College and I even performed professionally as part of the US High Diving Team. While I loved those sports and I even competed in Iron Man triathlons, none of those athletic endeavors brought out the same spark or fire that dance evokes in me. I am not sure that I can pinpoint exactly what this is, but it’s real and it’s always there for me, and this is what I want to be able to assist others in finding… the joy in movement.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
Equality for me is not only women, but it’s everyone independent of gender, race, ethnicity, income or education. I believe in offering everyone an opportunity to learn, grow, and shine.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
Atlanta is amazing! We are now leading the film industry, we have so many wonderful resources, and as a community we need to ensure that we provide ample training for everyone in our community so that we can continue to be a hub for teaching and performance. Specifically, for the dance community, we are creating a strategic plan for bringing all dance artists in Atlanta together- because together we can have a greater impact.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
My goal is to offer quality dance training for all with an emphasis on inclusion. We embrace those with physical and developmental disABILITIES and we prefer to focus on these students’ ABILITIES.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
www.TADAAtlanta.com; Instagram @TADA_Atl; Facebook TADAAtlanta

Lisa Tuttle Honors Women Leaders Through Public Art

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.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
www.sandlerhudson.com
www.fultonarts.org
www.publicartarchive.org

Instagram: @artistlisatuttle
Facebook: Harriet Rising Page

Veronica Kessenich Believes Art Transcends Time and Space

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 : Veronica Kessenich 

Where do you work and what do you do? 
I proudly work at Atlanta Contemporary as the Executive Director. I also teach as an adjunct instructor at Agnes Scott College.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
For as long as I can remember, the arts have been a part of my life – with ballet classes starting at age 3, to summer art camps, to falling in love with theater in high school – I have always included arts and culture in my life. My parents firmly believe that the arts enrich life and we always attended shows, performances, and gallery openings and on all family trips we ventured through the museums and cultural heritage sights to learn about cities, people, and places. With an undergraduate and graduate degree in Art History, I have been working as a dealer, art historian, and arts administrator for over fifteen years.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
When I was dancing, I had only one dream: to dance at Radio City Music Hall with the Rockettes. Not being tall enough – and frankly also wanting to have fun as a teenager – I stopped dancing. That’s when my world truly opened up. Mind you, every Macy’s Day Parade, I stop and watch The Rockettes secretly dreaming that I am one of them.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Lunch. With any one woman. Such a good & tough question! (I actually do this exercise with my students when I talk about Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party.) But to choose just one? Mary Shelley. The mythic story of how a competition between friends birthed the infamous monster and crisis-torn Doctor Frankenstein is just as much occult legend as the novel itself. I find it compelling how it was out of courtesy for the lady, that Lord Byron, Percy, and their friend let Mary read from her writing first. Shocked, horrified, and dare-I-say, a little awakened and aroused – the men all threw their own manuscripts into the fire and compelled Mary to finish her tale. I would want to talk about her dream – not only of the story but of her dream to be a writer, artist, and 19th century woman.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
It would be wrong of me to say that any one person has been the biggest influence on my life but it would not be wrong to say that women have been the biggest influences in my life. From my mother and grandmothers, to women who taught me at school, to the fact that I went to an all women’s college and currently teach at a women’s college – there’s truth that women are consequential, commanding, intelligent, innovative, dynamic and courageous. The women in my life been the ‘firsts’ in attending college, in raising a million dollars, and in standing up for their beliefs. I realize that it’s unfair to not fully answer and say just one ‘who’ but that would be like selecting a favorite memory – so many feelings, experiences, and truths come from how these women wove the fabric of my life and I would not be who I am today without any one of them being a part of it.

How is art a passion for you?
To quote de Kooning (the artist whose paintings seduced me into becoming an art historian): “Art is a language”. Art transcends time and place. It speaks to any and all of us – even when we’re not listening. It’s what gets me out of bed and what keeps me up at night. It’s something worth sharing with students and protecting through advocacy. It’s that which opens doors and encircles communities.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I believe that all people should be equally represented in any workforce regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religion, mental or physical abilities, or race.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The thing that excites me the most is the thing that has always been the case about the arts in Atlanta: if you can dream it, you can do it. You just have to put in the work.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
If I may indulge you in a manifesto of sorts :: I believe in the power of the arts to transform lives. I believe that the arts should be accessible. I believe that art centers and museums should be free (and fully supported by the communities they serve). I believe that ‘I like it’ is just as important as ‘I don’t like it’ – because it’s nougat middle is the sweet spot of conversation. I believe that the people are what make the places (staff, artists, boards, members, patrons, and audiences). And I hope that all of this amounts to the fact that one day – when all of us no longer work at the places where time, talent, treasure and passions hold us currently – that the work we’ve done transcends time and space; that people will pick up the baton and continue on our marathon to increase awareness and capacity for the arts in Atlanta.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?

www.atlantacontemporary.org