Tag: McKenzie Wren

Meet our Hatch Content Contributors

The deadline for the Fall 2016 Hatch Training Intensive is closing in! We are so excited to meet our next cohort. In anticipation of the next training session, we thought you might like to meet some of the wonderful folks that have helped us to develop this program along the way:

CenterForward President Heather Alhadeff shares case studies with our Hatch pilot cohort about Art + Planning.
CenterForward President Heather Alhadeff shares case studies with our Hatch pilot cohort about Art + Planning.

CenterForward, lead by Heather Alhadeff, President: Places that people cherish and thrive in are ultimately achieved via rigorous and thoughtful dialogue across disciplines. Transportation Planning and Engineering combined with sincere and effective community involvement represent a collaborative and ultimately implementable decision making process – a core principle of Center Forward. With that philosophy in mind, Center Forward Inc was established in December 2012 as a transportation and land use planning firm.

Heather has over 19 years of Atlanta-specific Planning experience. Center Forward is a big proponent in helping the city integrate artistic principles into all stages of planning. Center Forward helped C4 Atlanta develop content that introduces artists to planning, trends in planning, and how the artist may fit into planning projects that engage community members and community stakeholders.

Ebony Noelle Golden, CEO of Betty's Daughter Arts Collaborative, speaks about Conscious Creativity.
Ebony Noelle Golden, CEO of Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, speaks at a her keynote last March, Conscious Creativity.

Ebony Noelle Golden: Ebony Noelle Golden is the CEO and principal engagement strategist at Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, LLC. BDAC is a NYC-based cultural arts direct action group that works to inspire, instigate, and incite transformation, radical expressiveness, and progressive social change through community designed, culturally relevant, creative projects. The Houston, TX native is also an accomplished performance artist, poet, director, and choreographer who stages site-specific rituals and live art performances that profoundly explore the complexities of freedom in the time of now. Ebony holds a Master of Arts degree in Performance Studies from New York University, a Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry from American University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing from Texas A&M University.

Attorney Jim Grace, Executive Director of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, teaches our Hatch pilot artists about negotiations and contracts.
Attorney Jim Grace, Executive Director of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, teaches our Hatch pilot artists about the importance of copyright.

Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, lead by Jim Grace, Executive Director: The mission of the A&BC is to strengthen a vibrant arts community by providing quality direct legal and business services and ongoing educational programs to the creative community. Programs include business training for artists and creative entrepreneurs, pro bono legal services, nonprofit board service training and placement, microlending, fiscal agency, estate and legacy planning, human resources support, insurance programs, and corporate art lending partnerships.

Emily HopkinsEmily Hopkins is an artist and the executive director of Side Street Projects. Emily works to develop sustainable, community-based systems that connect working artists directly to communities.

Emily Hopkins from Side Street Projects talks about Expanding the Definition.
Emily Hopkins from Side Street Projects shares a quote by Pablo Heguera.

She is committed to hands-on, standards-based art programs for K-12 that appeal to multiple intelligences and incorporate into core curriculum. Emily serves on the art curriculum advisory committee for the Pasadena Unified School District (DAT CAT), and the advisory board for John Muir High School’s Arts Entertainment & Media Academy. Emily has a BFA & MA from CalArts and lives and works in Pasadena.

Katina Parker, filmmaker, pictured here during her time documenting Ferguson, MO.
Katina Parker, filmmaker, pictured here during her time documenting Ferguson, MO.

Katina Parker: Katina Parker is a Durham-based filmmaker, photographer, writer, graphic designer, cultural curator, social media expert, and communications consultant who has advised both the Ford Foundation’s Just Films and the Association of Independents in Radio’s Makers Quest 2.0 initiatives. Parker teaches social media and film through the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University and serves as an Instructor for North Carolina’s Community Folklife Documentation Institute.

She is the Co-Chair of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Task Force and the Vice President of the Association of Wake Forest University’s Black Alumni (AWFUBA) group. Prior to this Parker worked as a creative director in Los Angeles. She spent several years working as a Media Strategist for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), where she fine-tuned her public relations and communications savvy.

Clarkston Community Center Executive Director McKenzie Wren leads the artists through an exercise in asset mapping.
McKenzie Wren leads the Hatch pilot artists through an exercise in asset mapping.

McKenzie Wren: Mckenzie has a background in public health, alternative medicine and variety entertainment.  Since 2007, she has worked within the refugee community of Clarkston, GA – a community called “the most diverse square mile in the nation” by a NY Times article. She was previously the Executive Director of the Clarkston Community Center for six years. McKenzie uses arts-based and place-based strategies to bring about change. Her particular areas of focus are helping businesses and nonprofits strengthen culture through participatory processes and identify new processes for information and resource flow. She is a skilled facilitator who believes in the power of community to identify and solve its own problems.

The Hatch Training Intensive is specifically targeted towards readying artists to work in community-centric art projects in ways that are both sustainable and meaningful to all involved stakeholders. Deadline for application to the 2016 Fall Hatch Training Intensive is August 15th at 11:59pm. To learn more or to apply, see our Hatch Training Page.

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

Working with (Not for, or to) Community – 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’ 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!

These past two Hatch sessions focused on active methods of engaging community and gave us artists a lot of concrete examples of how to do so, either through experiencing methods as a group, or through the breakdown of other projects that had been effective or not. Through this process, we learned about mistakes that can be made and were given a chance to examine our own work through the lens of this learning.

Jessica Caldas (center) with Angela Davis Johnson (left) and Hez Stalcup (right) after her performance of her work "#3everday" at Oakland Cemetary.
Jessica Caldas (center) with Angela Davis Johnson (left) and Hez Stalcup (right) after her performance of her work “#3everday” at Oakland Cemetary.

I was able to reaffirm something I have known about my work: that it doesn’t truly and deeply enter the realm of community work, mine is, thus far, a social practice. This is okay, but my ultimate goal is to develop a practice which also works with the communities I care about and am invested in. What I understand better through these lessons is how to approach that goal. What is seems to involve most is trust, because you have to let go of so very much control if you actually want to work with people, not dictate to them or for them. That requires trust given to them, and building trust in them of you (a herculean task of time effort, energy, and consistency).

The main letting go is of false expectations, which I call “shoulds.” These are process focused methods, the process is where the art is, and the product, or the should, is secondary. I have a mentor who talks a lot of about the fallacy of “should” and this session also reinforced that idea. It may be cliche to say, but in life “should” is a lie we tell ourselves which really only hurts us, and this is as true for art practices as it is for anything. We make the best decisions we can in every moment, everyone who is present are the best people for that conversation, and everything that is said is what needed to be said. When we worry so much about shoulds we do damage, because we are trying to predict something that is unreal and it feels inherently negative because it assumes we somehow did less in the reality of what has actually taken place. That “should” deems less valuable the actual work being done. The asset based community development work we did in the session speaks strongly towards acknowledging only what actually exists, focusing on the reality of what we know, what we can do, and how we can use it to create positive, powerful, solution oriented conversations and I pretty much adore that idea.

As much as I love these ideas, I struggle to apply them to my own life, and I certainly believe that how we engage our communities should be equally reflected in how we work and care for ourselves. So it’s scary to know I am so bad at believing in the reality of what I can do, of what I am capable, and yet to expect myself to use all of these tools to work with others.

by Jessica Caldas

Asset Based Community Development = Looking at the “Haves,” Piling the Bounty

I work in art. Because I always have worked in art. Growing up in rural Georgia: Art, storytelling, puppetry were my solo means of personal fulfillment.
Ironically I kept thinking of this as McKenzie Wren facilitated Hatch Session #3…
My art growing up always began with looking at a pile. A pile of…fur, craft supplies, paints, whatever! And then saying, “Okay, what can I create?”

Scottie Rowell's illustration of "piles" from a deficit based mindset vs. an asset based mindset.
Scottie Rowell’s illustration of “piles” from a deficit based mindset vs. an asset based mindset.

Asset Based Community Development is that. Collectively looking at the “pile.” The skills, resources, and offers of individuals to better a community as a whole…”Okay, what can we create?”

By utilizing the Community’s bounty, their “pile,” the community is intrinsically involved at the core. It is theirs. The project or mission doesn’t exist without the community. The “pile” of assets doesn’t exist without them.

We as artists hold the ability to actualize, curate, and help the community utilize the assets to the fullest.
“Okay Community, what should we create?”

by Scottie Rowell

 

Hatch Session #3 – Asset Based Community Development and Doing With, Not For or To, a Community

The vocation of an artists is to envision, and then call out what has not happened yet. – Hatch artist William Massey III

Clarkston Community Center Executive Director McKenzie Wren leads the artists through an exercise in asset mapping.
Clarkston Community Center Executive Director McKenzie Wren leads the artists through an exercise in asset mapping.

This past Sunday’s Hatch session at C4 Atlanta was lead by McKenzie Wren of the Clarkston Community Center. McKenzie has had the pleasure of working in an incredibly community for many years, as the local high school in Clarkston has an enrollment spanning 50+ different nationalities. Talk about diversity! We were excited to have her expertise in navigating asset based community development and advocating for communities.

Our morning session was devoted to learning what Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) really was and how to incorporate asset mapping techniques into their work in community. We began with a simple exercise in doing an intake of the assets available to us in the room. Each artist paired with another artist, and discussed what one another felt comfortable teaching and what one thing would they most like to learn. Each artist in turn introduced their partner and shared their answers with the group. As we fleshed out the details of what everyone could teach and what they wanted to learn, patterns began to emerge, connecting those who could educate with those seeking their knowledge. In essence, this is the basis of what good asset mapping seeks to provide – an inventory of the skills and assets available in the community so that needs and access to resources can be fulfilled.

L-R Shannon Willow, William Massey II, and Angela Davis Johnson help create the C4 Atlanta asset map on a whiteboard.
L-R Shannon Willow, William Massey II, and Angela Davis Johnson help create the C4 Atlanta asset map on a whiteboard.

McKenzie explained to our artists that coming from an asset development mindset is different from coming from a traditional deficit based mindset, and is often times much more beneficial when working in community. Because ABCD emphasizes what is already available in the community, it comes from a place of reinforcing the positive associations already inherent within. A deficit based mindset comes from a place of focusing only on the negatives inherent within and can be detrimental if you do not perceive the positive resources already available as well. Our artists were then encouraged to build their own asset map of C4 Atlanta’s resources by looking through our space and plotting what they saw on a whiteboard. As administrators in this space everyday, it is sometimes difficult to look at our workspace and see all of the assets available that the artists discovered with fresh eyes. One of their favorites, by far, seems to be our delicious coffee.

Photo Nov 22, 1 41 58 PM
Scottie Rowell considers the possibilities of “Gilbert”, with Hez Stalcup, left, and Angela Davis Johnson, right.

Our artists also practiced seeing the possibilities inherent in an object by playing a popular improv game called “Yes, and…”. In this game, an object was passed around the circle, and each artist was asked to only accept the suggestions offered by participants before them and then add one of their own. We had fun adding both the mundane and the absurd, imagining the possibilities available in a common house paint brush that was affectionately named Gilbert. Through this exercise, artists were able to see the brush for a myriad of different possible uses and attributes without discounting any one of them, increasing the overall value of Gilbert the Paintbrush. The applicability when considering the availability and utility of resources within a community became apparent immediately.

After a communal lunch, everyone reconvened to talk about Doing With, Not For or To, a Community. The overarching takeaway from this session was to zero in on ways to assess the value of the community and to continue to work alongside the resources and individuals present in order to achieve the best end result for all involved. McKenzie gave several recent case studies from the Atlanta area of best practices and cases in which artists were more imposing and less considerate of the community in which they were working.

C4 Executive Director Jessyca Holland (far right) discusses how artists can advocate for their own community while (L-R) McKenzie Wren, Angela Davis Johnson, Hez Stalcup, Scottie Rowell and Orion Crook listen.
C4 Executive Director Jessyca Holland (far right) discusses how artists can advocate for their own community while (L-R) McKenzie Wren, Angela Davis Johnson, Hez Stalcup, Scottie Rowell and Orion Crook listen.

What happened next was one of the most powerful experiences that I have had working with artists in Atlanta. McKenzie invited the artists to share experiences regarding working in community and how that had shaped their attitudes towards what was happening in the arts community in Atlanta at the moment. The artists identified several issues related to work they had previously created in regards to implementation and working with community including lack of access to communication with community members, government and institutional bureaucracy, being brought into the planning process at the very end, limited resources for performance, and lack of wages/financial resources available to complete projects in a high quality, meaningful way. Because many of the artists had submitted work for the same art projects and performance opportunities or had worked with the same programs and institutions, experiences were varied and there was much constructive talk about the needs of artists to create the qualtity of work of which they are capable and the structures needed to facilitate that work within the community.

We closed the day with one last exercise to help emphasize the assets and contributions of individuals to create a whole. Together, our group created a song and dance based around words we identified as important based on the day’s lessons. Below is our musical creation: