Tag: Lauren Pallotta

Hatch Selection Committee Announced

Our Fall Hatch cohort deepens their knowledge of what is needed in a public art contract in order to protect their interests.
Our Fall Hatch cohort deepens their knowledge of what is needed in a public art contract in order to protect their interests.

We are eagerly awaiting selection of our next Hatch cohort for Spring 2017!

Applications are open and ongoing. The deadline for application is January 9, 2017 at 11:59pm.

We are proud to announce our Selection Committee for the 2017 Spring Hatch Training Intensive. We know their guidance will help in selecting a cohort of diverse and passionate artists ready to work in community. Our Selection Committee is:

Alex Acosta – Executive Director of Soul Food Cypher

Lauren Pallotta Stumberg – Organizer of Moreland Mural Project and Visual Artist

Rachel Parish – Program Director of Little Five Arts Alive , Performing Artist and Artistic Director of Firehouse Creative Productions

Saskia Benjamin – Executive Director of Art Papers

 

Applications for Hatch and more information about the program is available here: Hatch Application Page. For questions about this program, please email Audrey Gámez, Education Manager at audrey@c4atlanta.org. Please note: All questions received after 7pm on January 6, 2017 will be answered on January 9, 2017.

Hatch(ed) – Lauren Pallotta

In March, C4 Atlanta wrapped up a 6 month long pilot of our newest educational program, Hatch. This program is designed to help educate artists in the “soft” skills needed to perform art within a community context.

While our C4 Atlanta team is hard at work this week mapping out the final curriculum of our Hatch program (look for application details this summer), we wanted to highlight one of the pilot program graduates who has been utilizing her skills to produce artwork in the Little Five Points Community.

Lauren Pallotta is a painter, mural artist and graphic designer who’s work in community has, until recently, been mostly confined to two dimensional artwork. Through her recent project as part of Little Five Arts Alive, Lauren was given the opportunity to not only explore work in a new community but also within a new context. Here is her story in her own words:

 

Since 2016 began, I have promised myself to better align my actions with my aspirations. The result so far – I have become more integrated with my community through art. The kaleidoscope of my creative offerings gained new complexity when I joined the Little Five Arts Alive roster. With the encouragement of Arts Alive Curator Rachel Parish, my community mural idea evolved into urban place-making, which became “spontaneous sculpture” from upcycled materials. I was asked to make things from junk, to “set the stage” per se for the performances in the plaza. I was not in my comfort zone. So of course my answer was a bold yet shaky yes.

 

I’ve spent lunch hours dumpster-diving to forage for materials. William [Massey] graciously offered me advice on materials (Nothing spongy or water-catching, check. Bailing wire, check.) My plan was to be plan-less, to show up with materials and let the community be my guide. Focus on the process! On April 15, I unloaded the trashy treasures into the plaza – old electronics, computer cords, landline telephones, plastic car seats, modular shelving, CDs, garden hoses, fire extinguisher canisters, etc. – and got out some bright paint.

Community Members in Little Five Points help construct and create the artwork conceived by Hatch participant Lauren Pallotta.
Community Members in Little Five Points help construct and create the artwork conceived by Hatch participant Lauren Pallotta.

Then we made stuff. We made stuff with teenagers from the suburbs, train kids from “that side” of the plaza, a mother and daughter on a day out, a little girl who liked pink, a human rights canvasser on her break, passersby, tourists and locals. Ava made a peace sign with a garden hose and some blinds. Fred painted flowers on an old amplifier. We teased out the creative capacities of the community with random acts of art-making. By the end of the weekend, we had jazzed up the space to mirror Little Five itself: eclectic, vibrant and a little weird.

Creative Loafing called me a “sculptor.” I laughed. I am hardly a sculptor. But I did get to build some awesome new experiences because of the social, experimental and exploratory aspect of Little Five Arts Alive. I am incredibly grateful. It has let to new friendships, new projects and new vigor to keep living the life I have imagined.

By Lauren Pallotta

You can see Lauren’s project on display now at Finley Plaza in the Little Five Points neighborhood as part of Little Five Arts Alive, running every weekend until November. Little Five Arts Alive is a community building arts project produced in partnership between Horizon Theatre Company and the Little Five Points Community Improvement District. To find our more about Little Five Arts Alive, please visit www.littlefiveartsalive.com.

Documentation, Self Care and Community Organizing – Hatch Artists’ Blogs Part 1

Part of the ongoing Hatch blog series, today’s blogs are reflections by our Hatch artists on their experience from the previous weeks’ class by Katina Parker, documentary filmmaker and Black Lives Matter activist. A staff recap of the session is available on our blog.

For this class, we ask the artists to reflect on the following thoughts:

  • Referring to the slides from the presentations  – What is your position? Why do you want to do the work that you do? What are some of the challenges, privileges and “tools of the colonizer” you must be aware of in order to do your work?
  • What are some of your struggles with “self care”? Are there safety concerns in your work that you must be aware of?
  • How has documentation been a part of your artistic process in the past? Are there forms of documentation you wish to explore in order to more fully realize your vision or in order to best express the communities you are working within?

We hope you enjoy their thoughtful responses!

My exploration of the human experience through art is not so much activism as it is advocacy. I wouldn’t define my art to be radical. I do however, spend time creating art with communities as a way to be supportive and more integrated. I do this because I believe in the powers of community, acts of service and using art to intersect the two.

Mural by Lauren Pallotta for Unifying Youth at Douglass High School, in participation with re:Imagine/ATL. Photo by Lauren Pallotta.
Mural by Lauren Pallotta for Unifying Youth at Douglass High School, in participation with re:Imagine/ATL. Photo by Lauren Pallotta.

With any outreach, there is generally privilege. Parker’s words to “identify it and check it” were a pertinent reminder to be conscious of our place, our true intentions, our assumptions. It brings to mind the notion of “being a wombat” that Emily Hopkins discussed. Sometimes people mean well doing the things they think are right, but in reality it may be more destructive than helpful to the community if it’s not being done sustainably, alongside them, underpinned by their input.

I aim to work with communities that express a need: maybe it’s a mural or a children’s book or art sessions that coax out self-reflection and healing. I’m typically not a face of these communities, but rather an outsider who is welcomed in based on consistent mutual respect. As an outsider, I have to, as Parker put it, “be cool,” otherwise I become the stereotype these communities may have of me.

Then there is public art – sometimes created alongside a community, sometimes not. There is a school of thought that questions whether altruism is truly unselfish. It seems to me public art is entering the same sphere of ambiguity, something I need to be mindful of as an aspiring street artist.

Part of Foward Warrior, mural by Lauren Pallotta located along Wylie Street in the Cabbagetown neighborhood of Atlanta.
Part of Foward Warrior, mural by Lauren Pallotta located along Wylie Street in the Cabbagetown neighborhood of Atlanta. Photo courtesy of Lauren Pallotta

When I painted my first mural in Atlanta, the opportunity came from a demand in the community for more street art, but I was basically allowed to do whatever I wanted, as long as the wallkeeper/curator approved it. With total artistic freedom, this was as much of an ego piece as it was a community piece, because I needed to paint something to be considered valid, to be considered at all. Does that make it less relevant? I’ve found myself wrestling with this idea throughout the Hatch process. Am I being too sensitive or not sensitive enough? Am I being too egocentric or not egocentric enough? Am I being too controversial or not controversial enough? Am I being… enough?

For me, I think the biggest takeaway from Parker’s session was the notion that this sensitivity and consciousness are, in some ways, enough. Even if we aren’t a face of a community, that doesn’t mean we can’t be supporters of it. What’s more, we can utilize our places of privilege to combat the forces or voices that may be – knowingly or unknowingly – encouraging systemic oppression. That is to say, by being advocates as outsiders, we can be activists as insiders.

By Lauren Pallotta

Planning + Art(ists) – Hatch Artists’ Blogs Part 3

Part of the ongoing Hatch blog series, today’s blogs are reflections by our Hatch artists on their experience from the previous weeks’ class by Heather Alhadeff and Allison Bustin from Center Forward. Staff recaps of the session is available on our blog.

For this class, we ask the artists to reflect on the following thoughts:

  • Where is the work that you do most applicable in the planning process? Could it be incorporated in multiple steps?
  • Could you see yourself doing this kind of work? Why or why not? What kinds of projects WOULD you like to work on, regardless of whether they are “planning” related?

We hope you enjoy their thoughtful responses!

Angela 2
Angela Davis Johnson in a recent performance of “Between the Created and the Is: Procession with Ancestors” at Downtown Players Club

Artists are connectors. Typically through my work I strive to find ways to bridge seemingly disparate people and places in order to create unity and I think this mind-set can be a valuable tool in planning. For a few years I worked as a librarian, where much of my focus was on public service and programming and that experience greatly influenced my art practice. Armed with these skills, I see my art approach as a way to bring fresh and innovating ideas to connect communities in the decision making process. I believe my talents would be best suited in the planning process during the initial stages such as visioning, data collection, and assessment of conditions but in particular, community engagement. There are so many approaches in creating a way to make community meetings more accessible to the neighborhood residents; pop up shows to potlucks. During the session a wonderful idea of having neighborhood curator design creative spaces to gather would be an exciting way in engaging the community.

by Angela Davis Johnson

This summer I was in Boston seeing family. For the first time in three years, I felt nostalgic for my home in Atlanta, because I realized as I walked around Cambridge and Boston, there was hardly any street art. I found myself saying to friends, “In Atlanta, there would be a mural on this building,” several times as we were walking in Central Square, the hip and diverse neighborhood that connects Harvard and MIT.

I’ve gotten used to living in a city where the burgeoning arts scene has made such an impact that I feel its absence when traveling to cities without one. While Boston is a great progressive city with amazing culture, it made me happy to claim Atlanta as having something Boston didn’t: a colorful public realm.

Lauren Pallotta signs her mural "New Heights", located along the Wylie Street Corridor in Cabbagetown.
Lauren Pallotta signs her mural “New Heights”, located along the Wylie Street Corridor in Cabbagetown.

As Atlanta continues to bolster its placemaking prowess, we can be motivated by Heather’s slide that was headlined “People are DESPERATE for fun.” With the momentum we’ve gained through our city mural projects and programs like Elevate, it is the right time to be an artist in Atlanta who can get involved with sustained projects that boost revitalization in a mindful, engaging, colorful way.

Personally I think it’s important for an artist to be present and involved in all six stages of planning –Visioning, Data Collection, Assessment of Conditions, Recommendations, Public and Client Approval, and Implementation–so that the end product is a proper summation of its parts.

As a Creative Consultant, an artist can be an effective bridge between the planning group and the beneficiaries of said planning. An artist can offer fresh perspective and ideas to get more people engaged in their neighborhood meetings, the participatory process of planning. As we’ve learned in other sessions, an artist is a conduit through which a neighborhood’s ideas and voices is channeled, deconstructed and reconstructed into a vibrant and FUN public space.

I would love to be involved in urban planning. I feel as though it is a place where my creative and professional assets– cultural competence, painting, illustration, graphic design, education, non-profit management, strategic planning, outreach– intersect.

by Lauren Pallotta

 

Working with (Not for, or to) Community – Hatch Artists’ Blogs Part 2

Part of the ongoing Hatch blog series, today’s blogs are reflections by our Hatch artists on their experience from the previous weeks’ classes by Emily Hopkins from Side Street Projects in Pasadena, CA and McKenzie Wren from Clarkston Community Center in Clarkston, GA. Staff recaps of both sessions are available on our blog in the links above.

For these two classes, we ask the artists to reflect on the following thoughts:

Session #2 – Themes to consider:

  • depositing information vs. sharing information through dialogue
  • artists coming from a place of privilege
  • managing expectations through all aspects of working with community and with all of the stakeholders involved.

Session #3 – Themes and questions to consider:

  • What are the assets offer by the arts community of Atlanta?
  • What assets are available to you?
  • What are your personal assets?
  • What are the reflections that you had after the discussion about doing with the community (vs. for, or to) based on your own personal experiences?

We hope you enjoy their thoughtful responses!

The jumbled and conflicted thoughts I had filling my brain after Session #2—artist-as-outsider; expectations; semantics—were duly unraveled and reconstructed in Session #3—artist-as-conduit; asset-based development; appreciation.

I left Session #2 with my brain buzzing—recalling my graduate courses in educational leadership, my non-profit management days, my memories working as a grassroots organizer for school improvement, language arts advocacy, art programming, writing grant proposals. I left, however, feeling vulnerable and somewhat frustrated—that my ability to be a community-based artist in the South is hindered or disingenuous because of growing up white in a suburb of Boston. I know that I’m a privileged white girl, but does that automatically make me less credible? Perhaps it was my own insecurities—the on-again, off-again feeling of displacement I’ve faced in Atlanta, but I had this unsettling feeling that my authenticity was in question.

Lauren Pallotta, left, with Michael Jones (center) and Charmaine Minniefield (left), in discussion with her Hatch peers about wage equality for artists working with community
Lauren Pallotta, left, with Michael Jones (center) and Charmaine Minniefield (left), in discussion with her Hatch peers about wage equality for artists working with community.

At Session #3, the energy was completely different. We deconstructed the process of community building in a way that brought people together, cultivated confidence in oneself and each other, emphasized ethnography and encouragement. Artist-as-outsider became irrelevant as collaboration dismantled judgment.

Artists tend to be their own worst critics. To emphasize our assets over deficiencies shifted our thinking towards the positive. I for one am guilty of putting energy into what I’m NOT doing (or doing enough) more than all the things I AM doing. In feeling frustrated by what I have yet to accomplish, I overlook my own library of assets: cultural competence, painting, illustration, graphic design, education, non-profit management. Recognizing and having contentment in our assets is critical to making progress.

Things really came full circle for me in the appreciation circle, when Jessyca acknowledged my vulnerability and recognized my underlying spirit. The words she spoke rang deep; she knew exactly what I needed to hear at that moment and was so genuine, it made me feel much closer to the Hatch community. It gave me a sense of belonging.

This feeling of acceptance seems to underpin socially engaged art. As artists we are meant to amplify the voice of a community in such a way that each member of the community feels accepted, validated and heard. It requires a participatory process that culminates in an artwork—however tangible or abstract—that tells a unique story. Just as a community is built on the assets of its individuals, a community art project is built on the experiences and voices of its stakeholders. These abundant resources become the artist’s primary art-making materials.

by Lauren Pallotta

I’m a pretty reckless artist. In my own practice, over thinking things is not my strong suit. Sometimes this method works for me and sometimes it doesn’t. I can think of works that I’d love to go back into and correct or fine tune. Other works that I’ve created seem to have just materialized in a frenzy of movement and magic.

"I Hope There Are Ghosts" by Nick Madden, an interactive sculpture recently displayed at exhibitions by The Creatives Project and Phoenix Festival
“I Hope There Are Ghosts” by Nick Madden, an interactive sculpture recently displayed at exhibitions by The Creatives Project and Phoenix Festival

When it comes to public art, slow and steady wins the race.I’m in awe of how much discipline and care it takes to make successful public art. Craftsmanship, safety, beauty, all of these are relevant and necessary when creating a piece for the public. But the amount of sensitivity and vulnerability it takes to reach out to a community, to put ego aside, and to deeply discover what is needed or wanted by the people of a certain area is something that fascinates and inspires me.
We drive by public works of art in this city everyday. We may be stuck in traffic and wander and wonder about a sculpture on a sidewalk. We may be flying down the highway, worrying about the merge lanes, and glance out of the corner of our eyes a mural competing for our attention. But rarely, until now, have I thought deeply about what an image does for a community. What it represents about the artist and the area, and where those two things meet. Is it a success? Does it complement or detract? Is it necessary? How do the folks who’ve been living across from that building for 40 years feel about it? Is it changing their lives for the better or for the worse? Or is it just a cool thing an artist wanted to put up for themselves? A resume check mark? An ego boost?

by Nick Madden

Hatch Artists’ Thoughts on Community and Identity – Part One

This week, we begin our Hatch Artist blog post series as part of our pilot Hatch program. As part of their participation in the program, each artist has been tasked with writing post about their thoughts and the Hatch process for our blog. After each session, we will release some of their responses. We hope you enjoy reading their eloquent words as much as a we did!

This week, our artists were tasked with answering the questions:

How do you define “community”?

What are the influences that shape your identity?

I am a resident of Clarkston, Georgia, named by Time Magazine as the most diverse square mile in America. Realizing the challenges facing these resettled “new Americans”, I wanted to be a part of social justice awareness. I wanted to become a voice for people who have not had the opportunities we in the first world country have experienced. On my daily walk in Clarkston, I felt deep compassion for those living in hunger in my community. I witnessed Mom or Dad with little resources who settled here, no english skills, foraging for edibles along the sidewalks, with babe in tow. It made me feel almost guilty that I had so much food at home, such abundance in my own life. I wanted to invite them into my home garden, to pick what they wanted, or needed. It filled me with deep humility, and even sorrow for their lack. So I sat with it.

I felt inspired to impact the lives of at least some of these people. After all, we all are humans; experiencing the same basic needs, feeling the same emotions, breathing the same air, walking on the Earth Mother. I had a divinely inspired idea. Let’s create a mural together. Ummm…weird, art to feed the people? It was the “food” I had to offer, and my ambition could get us there. So I cooked something up.

In 2013, DeKalb County, through the United Way was offering a mini grant to fund a community project that reached low-income families; with this awarded funding we created Clarkston’s first public mural. Designed and facilitated by me, and painted with 50 community members, the experience lit a fire in me to activate community in this way. Let’s use art to break down social and economic barriers. Since then, I have created four community murals in Clarkston with the people. The largest one painted with community is a language mural funded by the Community Foundation in 2014. The idea was to bridge faiths and cultures in your community, and out of 200 ideas we won the award to create “Diversity Mural.” We brought together 100 community members, and included 43 languages written on the mural. I designed it with the idea of saying, “We recognize and validate your culture within our community.”

Hatch Artist Shannon Willow with her mural titled "Sun and Sustain" created in conjunctionw with the Clarkston community t
Hatch Artist Shannon Willow with her mural titled “Sun and Sustain” created in conjunction with the Clarkston community.

I am grateful for the opportunity to use art to bridge differences. Art is a universal language that everyone speaks. Art can heal people no matter what the experiences, or where one comes from in the world. I care deeply about social justice, food justice and community. I am excited to have been selected to participate in the HATCH program. The HATCH program will be invaluable to artists becoming a powerful conduit to use art to heal people, change lives and amplify the creative voice already within each one of us.

By Shannon Willow

—————————–

I define community as a group of people that shares a common identity, whose members support each other to realize their individual and group goals.

Experiences throughout my life have taught me the value of being part of a community and how it is impacted by culture. After several years in both community-minded and individually-driven cultures, I’ve come to recognize that I am dependent on community to thrive as a creative.

In our individualistic culture, it seems we are conditioned to constantly rank, favorite and compete from a young age. Why do I need to have a favorite color? Why can’t I like all the colors? Of the places I’ve been, how can I possibly determine which is “the best” when each offers something unique? Even as we grow up learning in small groups and special-interest communities, there is still a pervasive culture of comparison and individual stardom within a group. Does this incessant attitude of individualism undermine community or strengthen it?

After college I traveled to Micronesia to volunteer teach on Ailinglaplap, an isolated atoll of the Marshall Islands. This experience completed the paradigm shift in my own consciousness of what it meant to relate to people and be part of a community.

The Marshallese culture is one that is community-minded; its people avoid individual recognition and have an unparalleled regard towards others. In short, they put the needs of the group before their own.

In contrast to my upbringing, here was a place where there were no soloists. The only success measured was that of the group, not the individuals within it. The ensemble was the star. Everyone was peaceable and encouraging because it was what you did to survive. If you weren’t likable, you were on your own. And nobody wanted that.

With these experiences, I have come to this conclusion for my own understanding of community: It takes a group of individuals to make a community, and it takes a community to make individuals.

As an artist, it seems necessary to embody both individualistic and communal values for success. On one hand, you must set yourself apart, have a distinct style so that when your work is seen, the viewer knows it’s yours. On the other hand, you need to network, be likable. You need to be involved in the community if you want to stand out within it.

My personal need for community goes even deeper. It is a resource I’ve been trying to replicate since my years in the Marshall Islands, where the support system was built into the culture, not something you had to try and seek out. Without “my people”, my creative self cowers. For me, where there is community — mentorship, solidarity and support — there is creativity.

By Lauren Pallotta