Leading Lady : Constance Echo Palmer

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 2017: Constance Echo Palmer

Constance Echo Palmer, local Atlanta aerial and dance artist. 

Where do you work and what do you do?
I manage and teach at The Space: A Movement Arts Studio in Atlanta. We offer aerial, dance, and yoga classes as well as host events and performances.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I began dancing as a child, mostly focusing on ballet. This evolved to aerial arts in my adult life and I haven’t looked back. I opened The Space in the spring of 2014!

 

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?

Constance shows off her aerial skills on silks.

I was planning to be a doctor, I have a B.S. in Biology from Oglethorpe University. I still love science but I also love creating so I decided to take a year off after graduating to see where the arts would take me and here I am.

 

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
There is not just one, but I would love to have coffee with any of the woman of circuses golden age, like Lillian Leitzel, and ask them what it was like to travel the world and perform daring acts under the big top. Now days we have such amazing safety standards and professionals that continue to build state of the art apparatus and safety equipment, but back then these ladies were quite literally putting their lives on the line paving the way for us!

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
Definitely my parents. My Mom is always up to chat when I’m alone cleaning the studio at 1 in the morning. I remember calling my Dad before opening the space and asking if he thought I was being foolish for putting everything on the line and taking out a lone to start the studio. He said to me “If you never swing, you’ll never hit anything.”

How is art a passion for you?
When something is the first thing you think about when you wake up, or keeps you up at night because you have ideas and want to work through them, you know its what you should be doing with your life.

Constance preps for a Corde Lisse act which involves acrobatics on a vertically hanging rope.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I am fortunate to be in an industry that has, at least on the performance side of things, a very strong female presence and representation. Behind the scenes in tech and rigging its definitely the opposite and you have to work hard to earn the respect of peers.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The Atlanta arts scene is so diverse with such a broad spectrum. There is so much visual and performance art here that there is always something to do, see, and be a part of. Its also super exciting that we have a huge number of female show producers in Atlanta, such as Sadie Hawkins who produces regular burlesque and variety shows in order to give performers an outlet!

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
The Space was designed to be a place to create, a place to educate, and a place to sustain circus. By providing hours of open studio time every day of the week I hope to have an environment for professional artists to come and practice as well as create works. We host events and shows at The Space that are open to the community to show Atlanta that circus is accessible and that everyone can be a part of it. We offer recreational classes for adults so that anyone can try circus and aerial arts! We also have training opportunities for youth and teens in order to help them develop into professionals.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
Our website is www.TheSpaceATL.com and we are on all social media sites (facebook, twitter, tumblr, instagram, snapchat) as @TheSpaceATL – check it out because we have some shows coming up including our next Open Grip on April 15th which is a sort of open mic night for movement artists.

Leading Lady : SHANEQUA GAY

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 2017: Shanequa Gay

Shanequa Gay — Atlanta based painter, artivist, designer, and poet in residence with the Creatives Project. Image: Ode to Dantavious Chatham / 36 x 48 / Oil, Flashe and Acrylic / Wood Panel / 2016

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am currently an artist in residence through the Creatives Project. My studio is at The Goat Farm Building 8 Studio UMR – 6 (please stop by). I am a magician and or a painter and or a poet and or a designer and or an artivist.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I have had an interest in the arts all of my life. I was a creative being at an early age, as a kid on into teenagerdom I drew, danced, played the violin and the like. I have been a working professional artist (with on and off moments) for the past 12 years.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a Pediatrician and an Artist. Which sort of balanced out, I am a Mother and an artist therefore I play the role of a Pediatrician (albeit unlicensed), I have played the role never the less.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Maya. I would have lunch with Maya on the shores of the Cote d’ivoire. We would talk about how her life story marries so beautifully and unfortunately with mine. I would ask her a million questions about her life’s journey. How did she smile and dance and speak her way out of her pain and deliver so many others along with her? I would sit at her knee eating pineapples and strawberries (because they are my favorite) and ask for her wisdom. She would pull the coil of my hair and say, “Nah, girl listen…” assuring me the Creator has giving me everything that I need. And I would say, “but Maya how do I give birth to nations through my work, too?” I would have lunch with Maya Angelou of course.

(Diptych image)
Dual Citizen / 48 x 48 / Mixed Media / Wood Panel / 2016

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My Mothers. My birth Mother has hands down been the most impactful person in my life, I love her so. However, I would be amiss if I did not speak of the many women who have loved, chastised, supported, blessed, looked out, and prayed for me on this path of mine. There is a gathering of wise, knowledgeable, no nonsense women that are always accessible to me. I am so grateful.

How is art a passion for you?
I live, I breathe, I am my art. It is like a relationship when it is good it is wonderful. We talk all the time, meet up at specific times, talk about our past and plans for our future, make love through the medium, we break up, give each other some breathing room for a day or some years and then hop back to it like we never missed a beat. Me and my art… we are in love.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
It is still lacking and that gets old. The fact that race and gender are still on the table of things we need to talk about equalizing is just an antiquated conversation. How can we claim to be a progressive nation when we still operate in 18th century ideals? Make room. Make room for women and diversity, and this does not mean one standing in place for the other. How long will we be content with museums and creative institutions passing around the same canon of the “great white hope” of male artists when there are ridiculously dope females and ethnic groups that can add flavor and spice to the white rice? How long are we going to be content with only eating white rice with a male only sign ingrained on our napkins, plates, and forks?

What If the Ancestors? / 18 x 24 / Oil, Flashe and Acrylic / Wood Panel / 2016 (An elder dragging a hybrid is depicted) 

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
Atlanta is vibrant! Atlanta is the capital for cultural change. The civil rights movement and OutKast come from this place, does it get any better? I should say not. The Atlanta art community is creating new movements, its own dialogue. Mayor Kasim Reed is “making room” with the 1/10 penny sales tax to fund arts programming; thriving organizations, galleries, and magazines have continued to blossom and rally support for Atlanta artists, the film and production industry is thriving giving the opportunity for the music, theater, and visual arts worlds to collide to create innovative hybrid art forms. I am very excited about the arts in the ATL, something fresh is brewing I intend to be apart of it.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
Through “street mythologies,” video installations, performance and the like, I want to tell the stories of marginalized people here in Atlanta and abroad. I hope to spark a conversation with my work, to create a shift in how we think about humanity, who we assign and unassign humanity to, to question why people need to feel validated by an other, a lesser than. Why does it make people feel good to have another group under them if they are truly secure? This tradition, a sort of ritual of sacrificing people to prisons and systemic poverty because of ethnicity. I want to uproot and shine light on what separates us in order to mend, heal, and make room.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
site — http://www.shanequagay.com/

Insta — https://www.instagram.com/shanequagay/

twitter — https://twitter.com/shanequagay

Sign The Letter to Mayor Reed

Sign this letter asking to Mayor Reed to adopt an equitable funding distribution model for his fractional tax for the arts!

On Monday, C4 Atlanta, along with several other Atlanta arts organizations and artists, sent a letter to Mayor Kasim Reed to ask him to support our model for distribution of funds under his proposed sales tax for the arts initiative. Other supporters of this initiative include: Flux Projects, Hammonds House Museum, glo, Living Walls, MODA, Poem 88, Art Papers, Dashboard US, Moving in the Spirit, Atlanta Celebrates Photography, Soul Food Cypher, and others.This initiative would provide a dedicated stream of funding for arts and culture organizations in the city through a .1% sales tax. The full version of our proposed funding distribution model is available in PDF format here:

PDF COPY OF FULL FUNDING DISTRIBUTION MODEL

Our Funding Distribution Model:

The model proposed by this group includes funding for individual artists and is meant to incentivize growth of small and mid-sized arts and cultural organizations, while also providing financial assistance to larger institutions, too. Funding for individual artists would also be available in this model, as well as for non-arts organizations who would like to create cross-sector arts collaborations that would benefit the community. By nature of their mission, smaller organizations are often those providing the largest share of resources to underserved communities and communities of color. We also understand and appreciate the place of large institutions in our arts ecosystem as well. It is important for a robust arts community to have thriving organizations at all levels in order to support the career growth of arts workers and to provide the greatest array of services to the most people, regardless of race, location, gender identity or socio-economic status. Because of this, we believe this model will continue to cultivate Atlanta’s rich cultural capital and promote even more diversity within our community.

What you can do:

From these links you can:

— View the Letter and Proposal
— Add your name to the letter here, and a notice will be sent to Mayor Reed
— And view the Article on ArtsATL that was published today
What else you can do:
— Share this with others!
— Help us spread through social media. See the C4 Atlanta Facebook Page for posts you can share.
— Reach out to non-arts community organizations to sign as well.  This model supports cross-sector collaborations.

Below is a copy of our letter to Mayor Reed introducing our proposed model and the reasons for asking him to adopt it in the pending legislation to introduce this tax initiative. Names of supporters are added automatically as they sign. If you would like to sign on to this letter encouraging the Mayor to adopt our funding model click here:

SIGN THE LETTER

Leading Lady : Aviva Kessler

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 2017: Aviva Kessler

Atlanta musician and activist, Aviva Kessler.

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am a full time musician – activist
I have a band called Aviva and the Flying Penguins and a youtube channel “Avivasingsout” where I have a weekly show “Sunday Songwriting” and write and perform a new song every week often about current events, activism and local art. I also teach exercise classes at the YMCA as well as music lessons.
I founded the Georgia Hemp Economic Revival Organization in 2013 and work tirelessly speaking about how hemp can help our environment, as well as meeting with our legislators and traveling.
I also teach communities how to build with hemp hurd and earthen, sustainable materials as well as upcycling.
I built a little earthen playhouse at Atlanta’s Wylde Center with and for children who now have a real life example of a house they can build with there own hands that is from and kind to the earth. I regularly teach workshops on how to mix this earthen concrete and create as a team.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
My whole life. I always cared about the earth. In fourth grade I asked my teacher if I could go study in the library instead of stay for social studies, found a book on recycling and got totally absorbed. She had to send another student to get me because I stayed there fascinated reading for so long. I had never heard of recycling until then, the machine pictured was so big it took up a whole big warehouse room. That book became more important than so much in that moment. I felt its power. Since that day I saved my paper which finally began getting recycling in our town five years later. Music began even earlier, as young as I can remember. I won a national contest when I was 8 and performed for so many people, maybe thousands. It was one of the scariest things I ever remember doing. It was an instrumental song on piano called “Purple Blue” about the mountains. As a multi-intrumentalist and triple thread performer I studied music, dance and acting all of my life.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?

Aviva leads a re-plastering of Ox the Earthen Playhouse which was built at the Wylde Center. The earthen plaster is made out of lime, sand, and hemp. 

I wanted to be a singer but just one day a week. I always saw the importance of staying connected to community. I wanted to be a different thing every day of the week. As a child I remember choosing 6 occupations for each day of the week with one day off- it was Doctor, Farmer, Singer, Dancer, Mommy, Chef.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I am not as keen on just talking as much as doing an activity together, like dancing or singing or mountain hiking or playing trivia, painting, or cooking a meal together. Just eating and talking isn’t as much of an experience. I would want an experience with Sarah Vaughan. (Though I would want Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday to be there too) The talent, depth of soul and truth in their voices melts me. I would just want to learn their life, their favorite recipes, things to do, etc. I would want to sing with them :). I would want to know their dreams and songs they never could sing within the limits of the industry.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
God. I learned who God was when I traveled to Israel by myself at 12 years old. I learned how to overcome fear with love because of God’s presence. I felt God with me and I recognized this support in ways I cannot explain. It gave me courage, a sense of self, humility, and so much compassion in my heart. Struggle with ego is daily and it takes effort, kind of like scheduling lunch dates, doctor’s appointments, etc., and it takes a series of tools even, to sit still and connect with God and this is what directs me every day. God holds my hand, or maybe sends angels to, as I write about my past, get through obstacles from my past effecting my present situations, write music, practice, take risks, whatever it is I feel I am not alone.. I feel guided and accompanied and I know it’s not all about me. I have met so many people along the way who have taught me so many tools and inspired me- and ultimately what I got most from all of these inspirations was coming home to God, to come home to me.

How is art a passion for you?
Art is as important as food and fresh air for me. It allows me to get outside of myself and grow. It gives me space for emotional processing and jumping into the mysteries of life. It gives me a platform to express what I cannot express in any other way. It gives me peace. It frees me from the illusion of mental prisons. It allows me to challenge societal norms. It also give me tools to train my body mind and soul into a joyful avatar, as it were, of poignant messages. It makes me a better person and hopefully inspires other to feel better about their lives as well.

Aviva portrays a lemon for “Songs For Kings” with her band Aviva and the Flying Penguins.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I think good intentions are there, however there is a lot of ingrained male dominance. I appreciate anyone, man or woman who has the skills to contribute to a project, I think a lot can be bettered for communication skills between men and women. I think this has posed limitations in the music business especially. I don’t like generalizing, but it makes a whole lot of sense that Women as a whole, I believe, are still finding our voices, still finding that permission to take up a lot of space, still have different sensitivities than our male counterparts. I enjoy working in solitude a LOT, because of the connection I feel to spirit in this peace, but also perhaps because it’s easier and “safer”. Growth in collaboration takes a lot of communication, persistence, overcoming painful triggers, and compassion. Learning to trust our own guidance is key. Music can require long late hours in all of its aspects and that makes family life challenging, but you can say that for a lot of professions, like doctors and reporters. I think having a support team is key.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
I love the tangibility of the music industry. So many great musical artists have cultured here… the indigo girls, India Arie, Janelle Monae, Blind Willie, Outkast, the list is endless really. I love that any night of the week I can find a jam or performance with someone from the horn section, percussionist, drummer, violinist, etc. that works with well-known artists. I love that I’ve gotten to work with such talent. I love the studios and engineers here. Some of the best! I also love the many artists here. There really is a constant state of creation in Atlanta almost anywhere you look for it and quite a bit of activism too. I love all the urban gardens and organic farmers markets that have their own art status and accumulate local artists for their events. There are so many movers and shakers here and its a privilege to rub elbows with them.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
So many dreams here.
I would love to see an earthen artist sustainable village created here.
(More affordable housing for artists in general would be ideal)
I would love to see music stay and thrive in our educational systems here.
I would love to see a bigger hub for artist-activists – perhaps even an artist-activist “coffeehouse”
I would love to see more agents and local venues cultivating local talent by pairing them with well-known touring acts and music-business mentorships.
I hope to keep providing inspirational ear-candy with my musical contributions and collaborations.

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

www.avivaandtheflyingpenguins.com
www.youtube.com/avivasingsout
www.instagram.com/aviva_flyingpenguins
www.facebook.com/avivaandtheflyingpenguins
Facebook Groups: mudbuildersofatlanta and georgiahempeconomicrevivalorganization

Leading Lady : Lennie Gray Mowris

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 2017: Lennie Gray Mowris

Lennie poses with one of her letterpress machines, Fly. — Photo credit: Nate Dorn Images

Where do you work and what do you do?
I work for myself through my own design and printmaking studio, lenspeace. Through this space I create letterpress art that is focused on our relationships to ourselves and others, empathy and community building.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I have always been interested in the art, but they were never supported as a viable path to follow, so I became more involved in science early in life. My aptitude was always between science and humanities, so it makes sense that the arts I fell into are all very machine-based, letterpress printing and photography primarily.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an ethnobotanist and travel through rain forests to discover natural cures for diseases. Instead, I became obsessed with learning about self-care, which led me to study the social systems and environmental systems we rely on for care and how we can innovate them for healthier communities. I enjoy using graphic art and design thinking as means of engaging ideas of healthy lives and relationships.

Lennie Gray Morwis — Social impact design strategist, letterpress & printmaker.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
She’s actually still alive, Angela Davis. I would want to talk about what we can realistically do right now to engage in truly impactful change within our society, and how the threats of today compare to the threats she faced during the original civil rights movement.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My biggest influence has been my partner Kevin. When I met him I was 17 and a bit broken inside. He made me a promise he’s never broken, that he would take care of me and help me grow into the potential he saw within me, as long as I would do the work of personal growth. I said yes, and it was the best decision I ever made. I owe everything I have to his support, and the support of his family. They taught me what it means to love and be loved, and to build community with heart.

How is art a passion for you?
I do it even when it’s hard, it hurts, and I want to give it up… because the moment I break through that space of pain, something amazing always opens up on the other side for me.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I believe it’s improving, but we have a long way to go before we fully accept women’s leadership and overcome systemic sexism. I experience sexism all too often to believe that we’re truly evolved or embrace women as equals. We aren’t treated equally, and often aren’t taken seriously, but in some ways that makes us more powerful if we can use that awareness and leverage equality and to help leverage what power we do have to elevate others. It gives us an opportunity to bring light to inequality among all marginalized people in the creative workforce.

Lennie is hard at work in lenspeace studio. — Image Credit: Nick Burchell

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The collaboration, generosity, and community-mindedness. There’s so much support, care, and nurturing of one another as we collectively grow, and it’s inspiring. To have that on a mass-scale in an urban area is beautiful. I feel like I have family in this town everywhere I go.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
A space where those without a voice can find one, those with an open heart can find a home for it, and those who want to work together to create change can find a family of collaborators to do it with.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
lenspeace.com
@lenspeace
@lenniegraymowris
aiga.org

Leading Lady : Laura Cole

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 2017: Laura Cole

Laura Cole, Director of Education and Training for the Atlanta Shakespeare Company at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse.

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am an actor, director and Director of Education and Training for the Atlanta Shakespeare Company at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I started making up plays when I was 8 or 9, and joined a really strong children’s theatre program when I was in middle school, which was also when I decided to be a professional actor, singer and dancer. I got an acting degree from a strong college program, along with choreography experience and moved to Atlanta to begin my acting career. I have been in Atlanta ever since with a few out of town gigs, most notably an off-Broadway appearance in 2012.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
Once I realized being a crow, a bronc-buster or a starship science officer were less than realistic career goals I settled on actor. I expanded that definition to include modern dance choreographer and eventually added teacher, director and mentor to the list.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Adrienne Herndon of Atlanta would be a great place to start, but I would also really like to visit with Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim (early female playwright and nun) and find out what her life was like.

Laura Cole as Mephistopheles in the Atlanta Shakespeare Company’s production of Christopher Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus”.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
Besides my mother, who was one of the strongest feminists I’ve ever met, my teacher-mentors made such a difference in my life and career. Early on Mrs. Betsy Lubs and Mrs. Ruth Longman, both high school teachers, taught me how to be an artist and a scholar. My choreography and modern dance teacher at Northwestern, Lynne Anne Blom, was the most influential and impactful person on the artist/teacher I am today. She saw something in me that no one else did, she encouraged it and nurtured it, she mentored me through four years of college and quietly taught me how to be a teacher. Her example is the single most important influence on my art since then.

How is art a passion for you?
There isn’t anything else I can or want to do.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
In theatre there are still more women in the education side of the business than men, and the artistic and management positions are more often filled by men than women. I personally don’t want to be an artistic or managing director BUT the education director of any professional theater in America should be equally valued, recognized and compensated for their work- I imagine they aren’t because education is undervalued in American society and women are often undervalued……

Laura shows off her Suzi Bass Award for best Sound Design in the New American Shakespeare Company’s production of the Tempest.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
There is SO much!!!! I started here a long time ago and the growth, even after 9/11 and the Recession in the mid-2000’s, has been amazing. There are so many young artists staying here after school and practicing their craft, which 30 years ago was almost unheard-of. We keep growing even though arts and entertainment and the arts-in-education are not yet fully valued and adequately financially supported by state and local governments the way the movie/TV industry has been encouraged with tax breaks, etc. When THAT happens I will be over the MOON!

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I didn’t plan it but the growth of full-fledged Education departments at area theaters and the growth of Teaching Artistry as a career option is a contribution I can look at and feel satisfaction.

If I could do one thing (beside professional acting) I would focus on mentoring and teaching others how to be a strong mentor both in the arts industry and in other mainstream industries in Atlanta.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
www.shakespearetavern.com
we’re on FB and Twitter, too.

Leading Lady : Violette L Meier

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 of March 2017: Violette L. Meier

Violette shows off the many stories she has written and published.

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am a writer and co-Founder of Viori Publishing and co-Founder of Digidence Social Media Marketing.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?

I have always been interested in the arts, especially writing. I have bee writing since I was 12 years old and I have been published for about 10 years.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a fashion designer and an astronaut. I am still very much in love with fashion and space, but my true gift is writing.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
There are so many women I would love to meet. If I had to pick one it would probably be Maya Angelou. I would ask her how did she learn to be so strong and comfortable in her skin. I find her confidence and inner beauty incredibly powerful.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My mother. She is the epitome of strength; always pushing forward no matter the circumstance. I want to be extremely successful so that I can give her everything her heart desires.

“Ruah the Immortal” written by Violette L. Meier is a story of love, betrayal, and preternatural power penetrating one to the very soul. It is a tale of two sisters who wiggle through never-ending obstacles, wrestle with the sacred and the profane, and ultimately face death in hopes of finding life.

How is art a passion for you?
All I need is the air that I breathe and to write. Writing is my art and my purpose.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
Equality is the only way. It is illogical to consider it any other way. Equal work deserves equal pay.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?

Atlanta is my home and it is exciting to see it evolve and grow artistically. I want to help propel this movement into something that can influence the world in a positive way.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I want to contribute a different and valuable perspective on speculative fiction. I want my work to entertain and enlighten.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
www.VioletteMeier.com
Facebook: Violette L. Meier
Instagram: violettemeier
Twitter: violettemeier

Leading Lady : Tiffany Latrice

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 first Leading Lady of March 2017:

Tiffany Latrice

Nominated by Jennifer O’Shea AND Victoria Allen

Tiffany Latrice stands next to one of her paintings entitled “Blossoms”. Oil and flowers on canvas, shown at TILA’s first all female art show.

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am an emerging artist and Founder, Executive Director of TILA Studios, a visual arts incubator for emerging female artists in Atlanta. I founded TILA in September 2016 after enrolling in the C4 Ignite Program. I realized that by combining my extensive art practice with my astute business acumen, I could help women in Atlanta become trailblazers in the art world. While practicing in Atlanta, I noticed that there are barriers to entry glass for women who are artists, especially women of color. Experiencing those barriers myself, I created TILA Studios to provide women with a safe space to create ambitious art projects, receive professional development and art management services, as well as exhibition opportunities with our on-site gallery.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I became interested in an art career when I realized that I had not created an original piece of work in 3 years and felt completely drained and unmotivated. It was 2013 and I was living and working in New York City at one the most influential media companies, NBCUniversal. You could say I had everyone’s dream job working at 30 Rock, running into Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, Brian Williams and the SNL cast members, but I was completely exhausted and spent most of my time underground on subway trains. When I decided to quite my job and pursue art full time, I felt like I was finally doing something for myself. As I was driving for 2 days in my uhaul from New York to Powder Springs, GA, I knew I had to make it work. I spent the first 9 months of my time in Georgia painting. I created a body of work titled “When Fire Gives You Sunshine.” I wanted to know if I painted everyday for at least 6 hours a day could art be what I really wanted? I realized yes. I also realized that Atlanta was great for a young minority artist and entrepreneur. Moving to Atlanta has rewarded me in so many ways. I am excited to be living in Metro Atlanta and to be doing the work I am doing for women and the community.

Tiffany Latrice celebrates with Vicoria Allen, Poet & Student, at #GardensATL Opening at TILA Studios.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I fell in love with art when I was 8 years old. I decided to enter an art competition in 1st grade. It was a regional competition and the first place winner would receive a bank bond of 500 dollars. I entered the competition and won. From then on, I knew I always wanted to be an artist. My grandfather is a well-known abstract artist in the south east region and has even had the opportunity to paint Ray Charles and other famous jazz musicians and influencers. Growing up, my mother had his art work all around our house. My grandmother was a seamstress and my great-grandmother was chef. Everyone in my family was great at creating with their hands. It was inevitable for me to be in a line of work where I did the same thing. I chose a paintbrush instead, and haven’t looked back since. Now I am using my talents and skills to give women the opportunity to do so as well.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I would have lunch with Meta Warrick Fuller a sculptor from Philadelphia that practiced in the 19th Century. I discovered Meta Warrick Fuller’s work while studying Women’s History at Sarah Lawrence College. I was enrolled in the masters program and during a meeting with my thesis adviser, I was saying that I wanted to find someone that looked like me and interested in the things that I was interested in in the 1900s. She told me, “Well you got your work cut out for you.” I didn’t know what that meant but I soon found out that there was very little literature written about African- American women practicing art in the 19th century. After digging deeper and visiting the Library of Congress in D.C., I realized there was a whole segment of history and art history that had been overlooked. My thesis discussed Meta Warrick Fuller’s robust art practice and how she was able to attain success by leveraging her female friendships. I would talk to Meta about the importance of female friendships and why sisterhood is necessary for our survival.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My mother. My mother, Dr. Jacqueline Cothran is the most brilliant, resilient women in the world. She is beautiful, wise, and just an ethereal human being. She raised 3 children as a single mother, drove two hours while I was in high school to get her PhD, worked more than 3 jobs at a time to be where is she is today. Not to mention put my siblings and I in the best private institutions and colleges. So when people tell me my business or my art will not make money or be successful, I think of my mother and I hear her saying “For every “No,” there’s a “Yes” waiting for you around the corner.

How is art a passion for you?
Art is more than a passion. It is my way of communicating to the world when I no longer have the words. By leveraging art as a way to facilitate change or discuss something that is uncomfortable is one of the most timeless and greatest forms of activism. I want to use my voice and art to create dialogue and unite people from diverse backgrounds. By using something that I am completely invested in to give back and shape the community is the best way for me to share my passion with the world.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I believe that there are a lot of women of all backgrounds working in the creative workforce but they are not getting written about. This is why I think this blog is so important because it highlights the dynamic women art influencers. As I grow and build my business, I speak with local gallery owners (mostly male) and surprisingly some female owners that ask, “Where are the women painters in Atlanta” and I respond “Well let me tell you!” Do you know of Sara Santamaria, Yanique Norman, Tracy Murrell, Shanequa Gay, Diamond Bradley, Taylor Bailey, Sierra King and the countless number of other amazing female artist practicing in Atlanta. I am very well aware of my female contemporaries practicing locally and nationwide, but I realize that there are few institutions that do so as well. I hope to shed light on not just women in the creative workforce in the administration capacity, but also women artist practicing in the area.

Tiffany LaTrice, owner of TILA Studios.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The opportunity! The countless opportunities! Anything is possible in Atlanta. There is so much diversity, excitement, and artists working in the city that Atlanta is quickly growing to be one of the best places for artists to practice and for art organizations to be established. I don’t think I could have started TILA Studios anywhere but Atlanta. It is so easy to pick up the phone and talk to someone at C4, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, or the MOCA GA. This is a place where people don’t just say that want to create and or build a dynamic art scene, THEY DO IT! I am excited to join in and be a part of the movement.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I want emerging female artists to look to TILA as their safe space and home for their careers. I want them to know that I see them, that I want them to succeed within their artistic practice and that I am willing to go on the journey with them. Too often we steer young women from taking creative jobs because of “risks” established by society’s expectations of us. I want women to know that an art career is possible and feasible. For the world, I want them to know that Women Artists are Here. Women Artists Have Been Here. Women Artists are staying and plan to shift the art world so it can be more inclusive.

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

https://www.facebook.com/TILAStudios/

Welcome Spring 2017 Hatch Artists

Artist Meredith Kooi setting up a participatory installation utilizing radio waves.
Artist Meredith Kooi setting up a participatory installation utilizing radio waves.

C4 Atlanta is proud to announce the twelve artists selected into the Hatch Training Intensive for Spring 2017! These artists will spend the next four months learning skills for creating art projects with community.

The Hatch Training Intensive was established as a training program through C4 Atlanta in October 2015. The course is a result of three years of collaboration, research and curriculum development with both national and local experts in the field of community driven art projects. Now in its third cycle, past participating artists have gone on to work on public art projects across the country and internationally. The program emphasizes skills in cultural organizing, understanding and establishing identity, identifying key community stakeholders, and working with community in ways that are sustainable for both artists and community members. The program also emphasizes important career development skills necessary to do social and civic practice work, including working with city planners, applying for RFPs/RFQs, negotiation and budgeting.

Photo by Anthony Gary, from his upcoming book, I Am Human. The image depicts 23-year-old Danny Thompson, a homeless man living in Atlanta.
Photo by Anthony Gary, from his upcoming book, I Am Human. The image depicts 23-year-old Danny Thompson, a homeless man living in Atlanta.

“Hatch is creating a pipeline of artists well trained to work in community development on both civic and artist-led community projects. Protecting both the interests and the integrity of community members is central to this program,” said Executive Director Jessyca Holland. “We also know that the artists involved need skills to protect their business and artistic interests in order to do this work, and that is part of their training, too.”

“We are excited by the diversity of experience and expertise that the Spring 2017 cohort brings,” said Audrey Gámez, Education Manager. “These are dynamic artists who span an array of ages, identities and disciplines. Their work is an expression of love for the communities with which they work.”

Artists selected to the Spring 2017 Hatch Training Intensive include:

Lisa Alembik: A native Atlantan, Lisa Alembik is an artist, educator and curator. Her work focuses on spaces that are charged with histories of love and violence, the effects of loving and loss on the fleshy body, and issues of misogyny and women’s rights. In early 2016, drawings from her series titled “Murder Ballads” were exhibited in “The Green Mantle,” named after a chapter in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, curated by Ann-Marie Manker at Kibbee Gallery, GA. Summer of 2016, a sculptural installation of plaster works, both abject and fetid, were included in critic Jerry Cullum’s curation “Garden of Unearthly Delights.” Among Alembik’s solo exhibitions are “In the Belly of the Whale” at the Arts Exchange, and “Solace” at the Spruill Gallery. Her work was included in exhibitions “Herstory” at the Memphis College of Art gallery, “Sex Drive” at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, “Pap Art,” at Truman State University, MO and San Francisco’s City College Art Gallery, and “The Last Taboo” at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. Alembik’s curatorial projects from 2016 were “Lightweight” at the Hambidge Center for Arts and Sciences in Rabun Gap, GA and “This beautiful tangle” at the Dalton Gallery of Agnes Scott College. She is an associate professor at Georgia State University-Perimeter College in Clarkston, where she teaches the foundations of art, including two-dimensional and three-dimensional design, drawing and painting.

 

Rachel Garbus: Rachel Garbus is a theater-maker, writer, improviser and actress. A graduate of Smith College, Rachel is a native New Englander but is proud to call Atlanta home since 2013. She performs around town with Village Theater, Highwire Comedy, and the lit shows Write Club and Bleux Stockings Society. Her devised theater work – creating an original piece with input from all members of the ensemble – has taken her to New York, Haiti, and the east side of Atlanta. She’s never been one to turn down a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie or a singalong. Rachel is thrilled to join the 2017 Hatch intensive!

 

Anthony Gary:  Anthony Gary is a self-taught freelance photographer. Mr. Gary is an Atlanta native whose love for photojournalism has lead him his most recent project producing a book called I am Human covering the impoverished population of Atlanta. Anthony also works in the local film industry as an IATSE Local 479 member as a motion picture grip. An active member of the local arts community, Anthony enjoys freestyle rapping as a member of Soul Food Cypher, writing stand-up comedy, and screenwriting. He is also a dedicated volunteer with non-profit organizations such Mission Dawgs, MUST, and WonderRoot.

 

Julia Hill: Julia Hill is an artist living in Atlanta, GA. She is owner and director of The Workshop, a mixed-use artist studio and makerspace. She enjoys facilitating creative visions, being outside, and playing with dogs. Julia’s studio pursuits include large puppetry, installation, metal fabrication, ceramics, and much more.

 

 

Brice Kennedy:  Brice Kennedy is a visual artist and graphic designer. A conceptual designer, his inspiration for innovation is a quote by another artist: “Anything can work!”. His work is influenced by relationships and personalities of those he has met through his travels. A native Atlantan, he spent most of his childhood playing in local creeks.

 

 

Meredith Kooi: Meredith Kooi is a visual and performance artist, critic, curator, and educator based in ATL. Using research-based and process-based practices, Kooi engages radio broadcast, performance, drawing, mapping, writing, book-making and zines, video, photography, and installation to illuminate the embodied nature of the electromagnetic spectrum. In recent years, Meredith has been working collaboratively, connecting with others in conversations, oftentimes broadcasting those dialogues on air. She is an artist-in-residence with The Creatives Project (2015-17), a Wave Farm Transmission Artist, Hambidge Fellow, and recipient of Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs Emerging Artist Award (2014-15). Meredith is currently working on her PhD at Emory University in the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts, received her MA in Visual and Critical Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2011), and earned her BA in Environmental Studies from Denison University (2007).

 

Lydia See: Lydia See is a multidisciplinary practitioner, educator, curator of art + archives, currently in residence as the first Artist in the Community Resident in partnership with HUB-BUB and the Spartanburg County Public Libraries. Working primarily with photography and fiber at the intersection of site-specificity and duration, her practice involves material and conceptual investigation through research and collection, and is rooted in history: literal and conceptual, local and global, intimate and environmental, personal and anonymous.

 

Muhammad Suber: Born in Yonkers, New York, Artist InUs (Muhammad Suber) began sketching at 5 years old and is predominantly self-taught. He uses color pencils, pens and markers to inject real-life figures into fantasy settings -creating superheroes out of everyday people in his work. His goal is to break into the video game industry as a 2-D artist and to create a nonprofit that trains low-income youth in artistic techniques and current 2-D and 3-D animation to increase the diversity of representation in emerging art-technology industries.

 

Giovanna Veltre: Giovanna Veltre is an Atlanta artist currently working towards her BFA at Georgia State University. She is a feminist fiber artist using knit, crochet, and dye techniques in reference to the body. Using unlikely materials like tampons, she celebrates both menstruation and birth in relation to female power.  She plans to continue her practice in Atlanta and hopes to one day open her very own an arts center.

 

Jacquay Waller: Jacquay Waller, a native of Memphis, Tennessee received his BS in Computer Science from Tennessee State University. Additionally, he holds a Master of Divinity from Emory University, MBA from Troy University and multiple professional certifications.  He is a classically trained bass-baritone vocalist and has been an accomplished member of AmeriColor Opera Alliance. He is a proud recipient of the James A. Hyter Award and the African American Playwright Exchange (AAPEX) Artist of the Year Award. He is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity, Incorporated.  In his last year of seminary at Emory University, Jacquay produced and directed the show Coming from where I’m from. From here, his entertainment company DreamCatcher ENT was birthed. DreamCatcher produces theatrical experiences as a means for igniting community engagement with social issues.

 

Andrea Waterstone: Andrea Waterstone is a community-based public artist and the Director of Curation and Programming at Square Mile Gallery in Clarkston, Ga. She has served as the Arts Program Director at the Clarkston Community Center where she ran STE(A)M afterschool and summer programming. Andrea is a visual art teacher and multi-media artist who collaborates with teaching artists on fabricating large wooden sculptures, murals, recycled environmental art and mixed-medium Public Art. Andrea has designed and implemented arts based programming at the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, The International Community School, Jewish Kids Groups and served as a writer for the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) for K-12th grade Art. Andrea received her BA from the University of Georgia in Studio Art and holds a Masters in Special Education/ Deaf Education from Valdosta State University.

 

Kacie Willis: Kacie is a Detroit-native who has been residing in Atlanta for the past 3 years. She holds her BS in Music Recording Technology from Hampton University and her MFA in Sound Design from Savannah College of Art and Design. In addition to freelancing, Kacie has worked at The Center for Puppetry Arts and Horizon Theatre and interned at Synchronicity Theatre and Theatrical Outfit. She currently serves as the Patron Services Manager at 7 Stages and enjoys finding ways to contribute to the community through creative collaboration.

Past Hatch participants have been busy putting their skills to use both in Atlanta and elsewhere. Lauren Pallotta Stumberg is the curator and organizer of the Moreland Mural Project, a public art project to be located at the corner of Dekalb Ave and Moreland Ave in Atlanta, which, when completed, will include murals by 22 female artists. Charmaine Minniefield recently wrapped her time as curator of the Foxfire 50th Anniversary Festival in the North Georgia Mountains. William Massey’s ColorATL project is working to provide coloring books for 1,500-2,000 Atlantans in transitional or medically urgent situations featuring the work of over 40 Atlanta based artists. Currently, you can find Michael Jones finishing his 100-ft long mural project near the Chamblee MARTA. And Beth West conducts a regular series of Social Justice Improv workshops around the Atlanta Metro Area.

C4 is excited to welcome our newest cohort and looks forward to the creative work they will bring forth to communities in our city and beyond!

Nominate a Leading Lady

Nominate a Leading Lady in the arts for National Women's History Month.

C4 Atlanta is proud to announce the return of our Leading Ladies blog series in support of National Women’s History Month. National Women’s History Month is a project of the National Women’s History Project.  This blog series celebrates female-identifying individuals in our community who are super stars and worthy of distinction for their work in the arts.

Nominations for this series are now open and ongoing until February 28th. Anyone can nominate a Leading Lady! We want to know: “Who are the women that inspire you?” Arts workers in all disciplines can be nominated, including arts administrators. To nominate, please fill out the nomination form:

CLICK HERE TO NOMINATE A LEADING LADY

Nominees will be featured here on our blog throughout the month of March, starting March 1. Check back to see all of the amazing folks who break down barriers, build community, inspire, inform, and entertain the people of Atlanta through the arts.