Atlanta Magazine Story On Idea Capital Winner Gregor Turk's Project

“A poke at the underbelly of Atlanta’s gentrification.” An artist fights to preserve Blandtown’s forgotten history.

It might have been rechristened as “West Town,” but Gregor Turk wants you to remember Blandtown.

By

 Heather Buckner

 - 

May 8, 2018

 Turk’s sign, tinged with dirt the artist took from a nearby excavation, echoes a TV test pattern used in the 1940s to signal a station was between broadcasts—much like how Blandtown is between stages in its evolution.  PHOTOGRAPH BY CAROLINE C. KILGORE

Turk’s sign, tinged with dirt the artist took from a nearby excavation, echoes a TV test pattern used in the 1940s to signal a station was between broadcasts—much like how Blandtown is between stages in its evolution.

PHOTOGRAPH BY CAROLINE C. KILGORE

When Gregor Turk paid $85,000 for his northwest Atlanta studio—a one-story cinderblock structure built 70 years ago by a World War II veteran—the visual artist quickly learned the nuances of neighborhood customs, such as the crack house down the street that announced new product by hanging a Tweety Bird piñata in the front yard.

That was in 2003—ancient history in the fast-evolving landscape of intown gentrification. Turk’s studio is now surrounded by 35 new single-family homes, with prices starting at $550,000. Hipster venues have already moved in, from a coffee shop to a BYOB axe-throwing facility. And the area has been rechristened “West Town.”

Not so fast, says Turk, who in 2016 erected a billboard in his yard that reads, “Welcome to the Heart of Blandtown.” The sign is not a passive-aggressive middle finger at developers, Turk says. Instead, it’s a history lesson.

Hidden behind the Atlanta Waterworks, Blandtown’s known history dates back to just after the Civil War. Once home to four churches, a public health clinic, and a dime store, the predominantly black neighborhood flourished until 1956, when the city rezoned the land from residential to heavy industrial, a “death sentence” according to Larry Keating, professor emeritus at Georgia Tech and author of Atlanta: Race, Class and Urban Expansion.

The ordinance blocked new construction and even discouraged home repairs so that by 1990, the community had lost nearly half its housing and three-quarters of its population. The rezoning’s effects would linger until recently, as proximity to the Westside boom has begun to lure developers.

Turk has made preserving Blandtown’s name and history his personal mission. His project “Reclaiming Blandtown (Phase 1)” is one of a dozen winners chosen from among 77 applications for a $1,000 Idea Capital Atlanta grant this year.

At an Atlanta Preservation Center panel discussion hosted by Turk, Rhana Gittens, a Georgia State University PhD candidate, amended urban folklore surrounding Blandtown’s origins. Legend had it that white landowner Viney Bland paid for her slave Felix Bland’s university education and willed him her estate, which he later lost for failure to pay taxes. But Gittens’s research found that Viney was registered in the 1880 census as black. Her husband, Samuel, who was also black, purchased four acres for $200 in 1871. The couple had four children, including Felix—presumably none of whom were slaves.

As part of his project, Turk is using boxes wrapped in used bicycle tire rubber to create wall-mounted sculptures depicting the footprints of local buildings. Sites range from demolished structures like a barbershop and a juke joint that once catered to railway workers to the present-day homes that replaced them.

Felicia Feaster, a member of the Idea Capital Steering Committee, says Turk’s work stood out because, in addition to it being “a little poke at the underbelly of Atlanta’s gentrification . . . there’s gravitas.” He’s critiquing a problem, she says, and starting a conversation—one that Turk plans to continue this year with an exhibition.

While the community’s name isn’t particularly sexy, Turk wants the neighborhood to own it: “There’s nothing insipid about Blandtown.”

This article appears in our May 2018 issue.

Idea Capital Grant Winner Danielle Deadwyler featured in NY Times

The NY Times article recounts numerous TV and film opportunities secured by Atlanta creatives crediting Georgia tax incentives for the film industry as the catalyst. It also mentions that Danielle received a "fellowship to produce a series of pieces about the way women's bodies are used for labor". 

Let's be honest...we know her 2014 Idea Capital grant was that "fellowship" and she has testified to the importance that our grant has made in boosting her career. Congratulations Danielle!!

Danielle was awarded her second Idea Capital grant in 2017 to support her latest performance art experience which will use movement, dance, sound and spoken word to examine issues of motherhood, sex and language.

ARTSATL: Luminary Awards: Idea Capital takes an innovative approach to arts funding by Deanna Sirlin

Film by Filipe Barral for ARTSATL

In the midst of the economic recession of 2008, a small group of Atlanta arts advocates banded together to create Idea Capital, an organization that gives grants to support innovative work by Atlanta artists. This year, Idea Capital is the winner of ArtsATL’s Luminary Kindle Award for Innovative Practice for its own creative approach to funding the arts. 

This grassroots group was formed by artist Stuart Keeler along with Susan Todd-Raque, Pam Rogers, Louise Shaw and Cinqué Hicks in order to stimulate and support new work. “The goal of Idea Capital was to fill a void in the artistic landscape of Atlanta,” says Keeler. “There weren’t many grants or opportunities at the time. So how do you build a vibrant art community? Working together for a common cause.” 

Each of the founding members contributed $100, and a single artist, Allison Rentz, was granted the first award of $500 to create a multimedia installation. “I was so incredibly honored to receive the inaugural Idea Capital grant,” recalls Rentz. “They called to tell me that I won, and I think I screamed with joy.” 

Founding member Louise Shaw emphasizes the need that Idea Capital was created to address. “Supporting individual artists is an important part of the cultural ecology of any community,” she says. “When we launched Idea Capital, funding opportunities for individual artists had pretty much dried up. The situation has greatly improved since then, but I like to think that Idea Capital’s public commitment to funding artists has been part of the equation.” 

The grant to Rentz was just the beginning. The organization, now 10 years old, has given almost 80 grants to artists in Atlanta, and this year, Idea Capital awarded 12 artists with funding totaling $15,000, the largest amount in Idea Capital’s history to date. 

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Some of the minds currently behind Idea Capital include Sam Romo, Louise Shaw, Jody Fausett, Oronike Odeleye, Mary Stanley and Felicia Feaster. (Photo courtesy Idea Capital)

Financial support comes from the community itself, and individual donors are acknowledged equally regardless of the amount they give. “Like other crowdfunding endeavors, Idea Capital reminds people they don’t have to be wealthy to impact the cultural firmament of the city they live in,” says committee member Felicia Feaster. “Idea Capital represents the power of working together, and everyone playing a part in making Atlanta a better place to live. By pooling small, medium and large donations we can offer grants that have a tremendous psychological and tangible effect on the artists who receive them. Supporting the arts is not a rich person’s game, Idea Capital reminds us, it is for everyone who wants to make their city better, and more hospitable and supportive to the arts.” 

Idea Capital grants range from $500 to $2000 for projects in Atlanta. The objective is for grantees to create new, innovative and experimental artworks in genres including Visual Arts, Dance, Performance, Video, Writing, Curation, Music, Critical Writing and Digital Media. The projects have included everything from a writer using a Greyhound bus as his studio to an animator creating a video using bread dough for the characters. 

Organizers acknowledge that sometimes the projects fail, but they can still nonetheless lead to new ideas. “Idea Capital is still committed to the innovative, the risky, the controversial and the experimental in Atlanta’s art scene,” says committee member Oronike Odeleye.

Those who have received Idea Capital grants emphasize that they appreciate the support because it allows them to push into new areas that would not have been open to them without economic assistance. Visual artist Lynn Marshall-Linnemeier describes the impact of having received an award in 2010: “The Idea Capital award came at an important stage in my life when my work turned thematically toward the universal notion of ancestry and its connection to West African Yoruba religious practices. This afforded me the opportunity to add an additional layer of performance to my work, which had not been present before. In addition, the award strengthened my commitment to community activism through the arts.” 

“Receiving the grant affirmed my work in a way that had not been done before,” agrees artist Danielle Deadwyler, a grant recipient in both 2014 and 2018. Her project for 2018, The Ood: A Field Guide to Apocalyptic Worlds for ____ Children, will be a hybrid of movement, dance, sound and spoken word that will examine issues of motherhood, sex and language. “Financial support allows an artist to manifest their vision, to construct a reality of the work to as close as you dreamed it.”

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A mockup for Air (An Opera for Breath) by Steven Morrison. Idea Capital helped fund the completion of the project. (Courtesy of the artist/Idea Capital)

Steve Morrison echoes the sentiment. The artist received a grant in 2016 to make his video Air (an opera for breath) in which the characters were made from bread dough. “Not only did the grant logistically allow me to create something that mattered a lot to me, it also gave me a burst of momentum that continued throughout the year and is still pushing me forward,” he says. “Experiencing a room filled with prominent members of the Atlanta arts community who are all excited about and invested in your project provides not just motivation for that particular project but for your artistic career as a whole.”

Having the freedom to explore and experiment is crucial for an artist. As the organizers of Idea Capital understand, this is a challenging cultural moment, when artists are encouraged to brand themselves by defining their studio practices and to perfect their artists’ statements in order to meet the whims of the market. In this context, Idea Capital gives artists a place to innovate and explore, and perhaps even fail, a place where the mixing of genres and collaborations between artists provide fertile ground for creation. 

Stuart Keeler’s vision for Idea Capital as an organization “intended to galvanize the art communities of Atlanta with an inspiring means of providing opportunities funded by artists for artists” has indeed come to fruition. Idea Capital is helping Atlanta realize itself as a place for innovative art and artists.

Join us on Sunday, January 28, at Ponce City Market’s City Winery as we honor Idea Capital at the second annual Luminary Awards.

http://artsatl.com/luminary-award-winner-idea-capital-takes-innovative-approach-arts-funding/

News: Idea Capital awards $15,000 in grants to Atlanta artists for projects in 2018

 Masud Olafani

Masud Olafani

News: Idea Capital awards $15,000 in grants to Atlanta artists for projects in 2018 by Andrew Alexander from Artsatl.com

Idea Capital, an independent Atlanta-based arts funding initiative that gives grants to individual artists to help fund their projects, has announced its 2018 award winners. The organization will give twelve Atlanta-based artists a total of $15,000, the highest amount yet in Idea Capital’s ten-year history. 

“All of this year’s  grant winners are united by their singular imagination and vision,” says Idea Capital Steering Committee member Felicia Feaster. “They show the incredible depth and breadth of Atlanta’s creative community and a shared commitment to investigation, boundary testing and experimentation.” Feaster says that issues of gender and sexual identity were a leitmotif in the proposed work of winners this year, as well as close-to-home environmental and political themes.

This year’s award recipients are: Laura Asherman, Myra Bazell, Corey Bradberry, Danielle Deadwyler, Jon Dean, Ruth Dusseault, Masud Olufani, Lee Osorio, Chris Revelle, Zipporah Camille Thompson, Gregor Turk and Sean Saifa Wall.

The winning projects were selected from hundreds of entries submitted by Atlanta creatives following an open call. The chosen recipients will each receive grants ranging from $1000 to $2000. In most cases, the grant helps fund a specific project, work or performance, but for some, the grant will be used as seed money to support or expand the scope of ongoing work.

The organization, which will be honored by ArtsATL with an Award for Artistic Innovation on January 28 at the annual Luminary Awards at Ponce City Market’s City Winery, released descriptions of the artists’ projects planned for 2018:

Photographer and Wussy Mag founder Jon Dean will expand on the 2013 photo exhibition Legendary Children with a book documenting the Atlanta queer performance scene.

Ruth Dusseault’s documentary photo and writing project The Creatives will explore a subculture of off-the-grid makers and inventors. The project centers on members of a modern-day back-to-the-land movement, who, unlike their more familiar Hippie forebearers, incorporate technology, the Internet, global connectivity and shared knowledge into their “drop-out” ethos while striving for a utopian experience.

Two-time Idea Capital award-winning multimedia artist Masud Olufani will create The Katrina Suite as a series of sculptures that engage with the idea of water as transportation, liberation, destruction, rebirth and religion, tapping into the Brazilian state of Bahia’s complex relationship to water as both vehicle of the slave trade and component of the Yoruba belief system.

Artist Chris Revelle‘s Monument of the Spectacle will focus on the problematic symbol of the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Carving, which was created in the 1960s as a response to the Civil Rights movement. An alternative laser show created by Revelle will engage critically with Stone Mountain’s whitewashed Confederate history and issues of collective memory.

Atlanta artist Gregor Turk’s Reclaiming Blandtown (Phase 1) will chart Atlanta’s often troubling history of displacing black residents. Turk will create an exhibition of artwork centered on Blandtown, a historic African-American neighborhood on the city’s Westside, in addition to hosting a panel discussion and forum in which new and former residents can connect and share stories about the neighborhood.

Laura Asherman will create a short documentary about Georgia Power and its expansion of the nuclear power plant Vogtle outside of Augusta. In Power Lines, she’ll seek to examine the current and potential consequences for taxpayers, the environment and public health of this massive, contentious project.

Producer and director Corey Bradberry, working with playwright Daniel Glenn, will create But all the other boys are going to the public execution, a dark theatrical comedy set during the bubonic plague.

Two-time Idea Capital grant-winning performance artist Danielle Deadwyler will perform The Ood: A Field Guide to Apocalytic Worlds for ____ Children, using movement, dance, sound and spoken word to examine issues of motherhood, sex and language.

Choreographer Myra Bazell in her new dance/theater piece Ghosts and Other Guests (GOG) will seek to examine issues of exploitation and vulnerability, especially among women navigating their identities and status in online and social media spaces. The piece will feature five dancers, livestream video mapping, a drone and wearable technology.

Zipporah Camille Thompson, winner of the 2018 Idea Capital Travel Grant, will travel to Mexico for research and the eventual creation of artworks inspired by the weaving methods and iconic black pottery of the Oaxaca, Mexico’s indigenous pre-Colombian Zapotec civilization.

Sean Saifa Wall will produce director Surafel Tesfaye’s Letters to an Unborn Son, a documentary film centering on letters sent to Wall by his father, Willis Howard Wall, imprisoned for the attempted murder of Saifa’s mother. Saifa and Tesfaye will seek to delve into the disturbing backdrop of his father’s crime, including abuse, drug addiction and eventual death from AIDS, in a nuanced portrait of a man’s life and his relationship with his child.

Atlanta actor Lee Osorio’s one-person show Happy Ever After in Lumpkin, GA (H.E.A.L., GA) will highlight the collision of small-town Southern life against the harsh realities of modern politics, including the internment of immigrants in ICE detention centers in Lumpkin, Georgia.

IC Interview: Scott Daughtridge

 

We have been checking in with some of our grant winners in a series of interviews to see what they have been up to and what motivates them to make work. Scott is a writer that recently traveled on a Greyhound bus in the Southeast creating a collection of short stories inspired by his travels entitled Strange Temple. 

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Where were you born?

Acworth, Georgia

What are you favorite materials to work with?

Nouns and verbs. 

 Scott Daughtridge

Scott Daughtridge

What is your motivating factor in creating artistic work?

I like being uncomfortable. I like problem solving. I am motivated by the challenge of using language to bring images, atmospheres and feelings to life, and building narratives with those elements. Writing also allows me to share my experiences with people I’ll never meet. Even when I’m dead someone might find something I wrote and gain inspiration from what I imagined, what I thought, what I saw. The permanent presence artists can create for themselves is intriguing to me. Ultimately, however, I create art to protest laziness and contentedness. Even if nobody ever saw what I created at least I could say I didn’t waste all my time watching TV. 

 Scott Daughtridge

Scott Daughtridge

Who are your influences?

My influences are people who work hard. Musicians, skateboarders, rappers, builders. If they work everyday at getting better at their craft, then I want to be like them. 

Some literary influences are Kazuo Ishiguro, ZZ Packer, Breece D’J Pancake, Lindsay Hunter, Maryse Meijer, Blake Butler, Denis Johnson, Anne Carson, Jean Genet. 

The first art you saw that informed your practice and let you know this was possibility to become an artist?

Punk rock and hip-hop. Those movements were made by teenagers who were told their existence didn’t matter. Instead of falling in line and begging for praise they rebelled and used their passion, smarts and hands to create something the world had never seen before. Not only did the kids in the Bronx not have grant funding, studio space, institutional support (or whatever else people claim they need to be productive artists), they were being actively pursued by police/politicians and prosecuted for expressing themselves. From them I learned that there is no excuse for not creating whatever you want, that making art, or anything, comes down to passion and work ethic. 

As an artist, do you think your work is political?

In the newest phase of my work, I’ve been trying to invert traditional power dynamics, which I believe is a political act. My characters often take extreme measures to gain control over their lives. The results are not always positive or predictable, but the characters prove they can change themselves and the world around them by breaking rules, bucking expectations, and abandoning their fears. 

What is the connection between protest and art-making?

For me, making art is a form of protest against the idea that our value as people comes from what and how much we consume. We are told everyday that our lives can only be fulfilled if we drive certain cars, wear certain clothes, eat certain things. People are actively dissuaded from making things for themselves. I think that is bullshit. 

I see making art as a protest against fear, fear of failure, fear of judgment, fear of ridicule, fear of embarrassment. 

What was the seminal experience that got you to the work you are making now?

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I found The Outlaw Bible of American Literature in a bookstore, which introduced me to William S. Burroughs, Patti Smith, Assata Shakur, Michelle Tea, Iceberg Slim, Gregory Corso—writers who differed radically from the literature I’d been taught in school. That got me reading. I started writing because I felt I had stories to tell also.

JF

 

Charity Harris at Hathaway Gallery

 vessel, 2017, wicker, rattan, and seagrass baskets, raffia hats, linen, shedding molted snakeskin, white glue, bleached denim, sand 

vessel, 2017, wicker, rattan, and seagrass baskets, raffia hats, linen, shedding molted snakeskin, white glue, bleached denim, sand 

Charity Harris: Southernoids II: Symposium
ON VIEW: January 20 - March 17, 2018
OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday, January 20, 6 – 9 PM (complimentary valet parking)

HATHAWAY | Contemporary Gallery

887 Howell Mill Rd NW Suite 4, Atlanta, GA 30318

Atlanta, Georgia – In conjunction with Idea Capital, HATHAWAY is proud to present Southernoids II: Symposium, a solo exhibition by installation and sculpture artist, Charity Harris. Southernoids II: Symposium will open concurrently with Abstract Tendencies, an exhibition of contemporary abstract painting, featuring work by Whitney Wood Bailey, Khalilah Birdsong, Carol John, and Fran O’Neill. 

Charity Harris is an Atlanta-based artist who creates fashion sculptures from second-hand and ready-made materials. Harris uses her Southern upbringing as the driving force for the content that fuels her work—race, religion and the human relationship to nature. She combines the use of "humble materials" with her love of natural textures and historic costume to express her unique experiences that explore Southern identity as an African-American woman. In the time spent obtaining a Bachelor of Arts from Georgia State University, her study of fashion expanded to an exploration of textiles to ultimately merging fiber and sculpture. Harris is a Windgate Fellowship finalist and, most recently, an Idea Capital Grant recipient. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia and has been featured in the textile magazine, Fiber Art Now.

 detail of vessel, 2017 

detail of vessel, 2017 

"Southernoids II: Symposium is the second body of work in the Southernoids series. This work continues my investigation of unusual textures to illustrate the complex identity of the South and its difficult history with race, religion, and its relationship with nature. As a black woman from the South, I look not only to my own personal experiences to inform my work, but also interpret the connection between historical and contemporary cultural practices and happenings at large. Creating the installation and wearable sculptures, I invite others into a narrative that I believe shows an unrepresented side of Southern culture. The idea of the large table as the centerpiece of the exhibition was born of my desire to construct a safe space for dialogue about these difficult topics. Traditionally, the table in Southern culture signifies a place of agency for thoughts and opinions to be heard. The last setting—the head of the table—is left open for the viewer to engage the issues that surround the culture of the South." 

Please join at the beautiful Hathaway Gallery on January 20th to celebrate this artist's new body of work!

IC Interview: Shana Robbins

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We have been checking in with some of our grant winners in a series of interviews to see what they have been up to. Born in Atlanta, Shana Robbins is firstly a great painter that has merged that medium into all other categories. From sewing, performing, singing, filming, to painting, each informs the next, breaks it down and begins again. Minimalism to maximalism, Shana has created a body of work through the years that has dove into self-portraiture, rebalanced the gaze and invited us along. Where is she going?

Tell me about your favorite materials to work with. 

I’m a post-disciplinary artist, so my favorite materials cross a spectrum of water-based paints, collage, fiber arts, film/video, and performance. But I always come back to the paintings on raw canvas, textiles, and paper, which serve as oracular blueprints for the other things I make. With painting, I also enjoy using flower waters and crystal powders. 

 Supernatural Conductor performance at The Contemporary, Atlanta, GA

Supernatural Conductor performance at The Contemporary, Atlanta, GA

 Technomesa painting

Technomesa painting

What is your motivating factor in creating artistic work?

My motivation for creating art is best described using a quote from the feminist philosopher Rosie Braidotti: “in spite of our times and out of love for our times.”

What do you like most about the art that you make?

I like the way one thing leads to another with my artwork. When I follow the intelligence that emerges, I find myself in some wild, heartwarming places. I have been able to travel internationally and collaborate with some beautiful, powerful healers, artists, and traditional medicine men and women. This has been an incredible gift that has transformed my life.

 Tree Ghost performance in Iceland

Tree Ghost performance in Iceland

Who are your influences?

My influences are constantly changing. Right now some artists I’m looking at are Francis Upritchard, Leidy Churchman, Lucy Dodd, and also traditional craft works using hand dyeing and weaving.


Alejandro Jodorowsky will always be a hero of mine…


Other influences: the 70’s shapeshifters like Adrian Piper, Ana Mendieta, Rebecca Horn, and Eleanor Antin; the Butoh artist Kazuo Ohno; stain and color field painters like Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis; also the Earthworks artists like Robert Smithson, Richard Long, and Judy Chicago’s women and smoke series. And I love Guillermo Gomez-Pena.

 Morris Louis

Morris Louis

 Judy Chicago

Judy Chicago


Some people I am looking at outside the art realm are feminist thinkers like Donna Haraway and Rosie Braidotti. And the ecologist Simona Gabriela Kossak. Also Gilles Deleuze, through osmosis, because I live with a philosopher-shaman. 

It’s a real mixed bag for me, which I love. 

The first art you saw that informed your practice and let you know that it was a possibility to become an artist?

When my older sister and I were little, my mom would do photorealistic paintings of us. I saw my mom as a maga, a bruja of sorts, because of her ability to rematerialize our faces with these liquid colors. I was inspired by her process….I remember a soft, feminine tranquility filling the room and how time slowed down when she was working. Those times brought a welcomed peace within the very turbulent household of my childhood. I followed a life-affirming intelligence within my art that led me out of that. 

What do you feel you are trying to communicate with your work?

I am trying to communicate an affirmation of the beauty and life forces in the world. I use my body to represent someone who is a modern vehicle for channeling and communing with nonvisible natural forces and techno-spiritual patterns. I am also communicating that we are all indigenous to the planet. I do all this by embodying different eco-emissaries or hybrid beings, shifting their shapes and performing ritualized gestures within unique habitats. Surprisingly, I learned the art of shapeshifting by being a professional fashion model for many years. In that world, I used my body as a mirror, a screen, an in-between space, and a collage.

 The Other performance piece in Silver Gate, Montana

The Other performance piece in Silver Gate, Montana

 Pajara painting

Pajara painting

As an artist, do you think your work is political?

I definitely create work that is political. I think everything we do has political underpinnings and consequences. Right now we are in the midst of an intense focus on identity politics in this country. Not only that, but many of us are becoming weary of the predatory anti-environmentalism that capitalism has been channeling for so long. Because my work involves ecofeminism and third millennium shamanism, I am dealing with personal, symbolic, and political mappings around all of that. The “we” that I am representing relinquishes the notion of a fixed self within essentialist identitarian politics. In other words, my work aims to put forward new visual archetypes that embrace hybrid alterities and draw new cartographies of the present. This isn’t to say that I don’t acknowledge and honor the multiple heterogeneous voices and perspectives in this world. On the contrary, I am dedicated to defending those who are experiencing culturally asymmetrical power relations. My work is an invitation to my audience to identify, accept, and rework its own cultural horizons through an intimate, multi-sensory engagement with my art.

What is the connection between protest and art making?

For me an “acting out” or a “bodying forth” within performance art and other art forms can be a means of activism. A necessary destabilization or emergence of new possibilities can take place. The act of slowing down, forming an alternative collective, or opening someone’s heart can be provocative forms that disrupt a global capitalist agenda or unhealthy art apparatus. 

What are you working on currently? 

Since my September opening at the Zuckerman Museum, I have been working on new wall hangings that are also possible costumes. I’m also working on some new paintings as part of a series called The Noncorporeals. These are large-scale paintings that serve as portals for supernatural forces. They are carried through an exhibition space with accompanying sonic transmissions. These are mobile and exist off the wall.

JF

 Culture Creatures performance at Zuckerman Museum, Kennesaw, GA

Culture Creatures performance at Zuckerman Museum, Kennesaw, GA

 Culture Creatures installation at Zuckerman Museum, Kennesaw, GA

Culture Creatures installation at Zuckerman Museum, Kennesaw, GA

 Culture Creatures installation at Zuckerman Museum, Kennesaw, GA photo: Mike Jensen

Culture Creatures installation at Zuckerman Museum, Kennesaw, GA photo: Mike Jensen

IC Interview: Masud Olufani

We wanted to check in with some of our grant winners in a series of art interviews. Masud Olufani is a prolific artist who's work draws you in from across the room. Then, up close unfolds dynamic details that will knock you over. 

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Where were you born? Los Angeles, California

What are you favorite materials to work with? The material usually follows the concept, so generally speaking whatever material I’m using in the moment.

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What is your motivating factor in creating artistic work? 

A compelling inner need to create.

What do you like most about the art that you make? 

I like the multiple layers of meaning encoded in the work I make.

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Who are your influences?

Martin Puryear; Leonardo Drew; Radcliff Bailey; Ursula Von Rydingsvard; Isamu Noguchi

The first art you saw that informed your practice and let you know this was possibility to become an artist?

Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series

What do you feel you are trying to communicate with your work?

It varies. My work engages a number of existential concerns such as racial and social stratification; economic instability; and the soul’s aspiration for transcendence. 

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As an artist, do you think you work is political?

Not particularly.

What is the connection between protest and art-making?

Art making is the foundation. Protest is a particular goal of certain art making practices. 

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What was the seminal experience that got you to the work you are making now?

Careful observation of the world around me and a open heart.

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What are you working on currently?

A collection of sculptures which together constitute an installation titled the Katrina Suite based on the various iterations of water vis-à-vis the African American experience.  

JF

 

2017 Grant Application NOW OPEN

 For nine years, the grass roots Atlanta arts organization Idea Capital has awarded grants to some of Atlanta’s most influential artists: glo, Lucky Penny, T. Lang, Blake Butler, Sheila Pree Bright, Gyun Hur, Michi Meko, Jason Kofke, Masud Olufani. Many of our artists go on to make an important and continuing impact on the Atlanta arts scene in their disciplines whether as photographers, performers, dancers or filmmakers. And you can make your mark too by joining the talented group of creatives who since 2008 have received grants from Idea Capital and enriched this city with their work.  Play a part in one of Atlanta’s most important grass roots arts organizations this year by applying for a 2018 Idea Capital grant. Our awards range from $500 to $2,000 and can help you jump start a new project or provide that last infusion of funds to complete your work. If you are an Atlanta-metro artist working in the visual arts, film, performance, theater, literature or another creative discipline and creating challenging, innovative work, we’d like to hear from you.   

For nine years, the grass roots
Atlanta arts organization Idea Capital has awarded grants to some of Atlanta’s
most influential artists: glo, Lucky Penny, T. Lang, Blake Butler, Sheila Pree Bright,
Gyun Hur, Michi Meko, Jason Kofke, Masud Olufani.
Many of our artists go on to make an important and continuing impact on the
Atlanta arts scene in their disciplines whether as photographers, performers,
dancers or filmmakers. And you can make your mark too by joining the talented
group of creatives who since 2008 have received grants from Idea Capital and
enriched this city with their work.

Play a part in one of Atlanta’s most important grass roots arts organizations this
year by applying for a 2018 Idea Capital grant. Our awards range from $500 to
$2,000 and can help you jump start a new project or provide that last infusion of
funds to complete your work. If you are an Atlanta-metro artist working in the
visual arts, film, performance, theater, literature or another creative discipline
and creating challenging, innovative work, we’d like to hear from you.

 

IC Interview: Steven Morrison

In a series of interviews, we reached out to grant winner Steven Morrison. He recently premiered his piece Air (an opera for breath) at The Center For Puppetry Arts. Steven talks on bread dough, Alice in Wonderland and opera.

Where were you born? I was born in Urbana, Illinois while my dad was a PhD student. We moved west when I was still very small, so the state of Illinois always had a distant romantic aura around it in my mind as a kid. The silent “s” was mysterious and conspiratory.

What are you favorite materials to work with? It's important to let my ideas dictate my medium, and so materials tend to change a lot from work to work. But one through-line is that I really relish the textures and surfaces of whatever I'm working with. For the last three or four years, I've spent a ridiculous amount of time with bread dough. It's a fascinating material, because the artistic process becomes a true collaboration. The yeast creatures inside the dough are literally alive—a vast civilization of microscopic puppeteers moving the dough around as they breath together.

What is your motivating factor in creating artistic work? Creating artistic work is what I want to be doing all the time, so motivation isn't really an issue. Of course I want to investigate my materials, push them and play with them and see how far they'll take me. A lot of it comes down to a really basic delight in moving material around—squishing bread dough, smearing plaster, sculpting with paint, or editing film to sculpt with time. It's a visceral experience and one that leads to endless surprises. The drive to create things is primal.

But the things I create should be the beginning. I want people to engage with them, be moved by them, and be driven to create their own meanings. Good art gets new meanings started.

What do you like most about the art that you make? I'm constantly in awe of the strangeness of the world and I'm voracious in my search to find human expression of this strangeness. I like it when that strangeness crops up unexpectedly in my own work.

Who are your influences? In terms of animation, my primary influence has been Jan Svankmajer. When I wasa teenager, our local university had a free screening of Jan Svankmajer's Alice, a mind-blowing Czech stop-motion vision of Alice in Wonderland featuring piles of leaves, puppets, chicken skeletons, and toothed socks eating through the floorboards. I remember walking home from that screening and feeling like the dirt, leaves, and shrubs I passed were all secretly possessed with a kind of uncanny life—that they could get up and shuffle away at any moment. I've never been the same since then. That moment really sparked my interest in how animation and objects could create a world-altering aesthetic experience. In my animation, I really lean into textures, real raw objects, and natural forms.

A couple of my favorite paintings are Albrecht Altdorfer's St. George And The Dragon, Goya's The Dog, Poussin's Landscape With Man Killed By A Snake...I love Philip Guston, Tony Oursler, Annette Messager, Nancy Graves, Anselm Kiefer, Urs Fischer, Alex Katz's landscapes, Laura Owens...

The first art you saw that informed your practice and let you know this was possibility to become an artist? I had an important moment about four years ago while visiting an art museum that had curated an exhibition of contemporary experimental animators. It gave me the courage to investigate that pathway which I had longed to explore, but which had seemed so very unrealistic to me. Since then, I've made half a dozen experimental animations and been able to start showing them in museums and galleries. 

What do you feel you are trying to communicate with your work? I want to communicate a sense of wonder and a sense of humor. I want people to be surprised that they can be emotionally moved by a lump of dough. With Air (an opera for breath), I think of the bread as the body, and the breath expands and deflates that body. The bread dough becomes like lungs, among other things. The idea of inspiration/expiration relate to love and death, the central dramatic themes of opera. I'm also interested in the kind of inherent eroticism of opera--a hushed audience sitting in the dark and watching singers' bodies as they take huge breaths and expel them (musically) with soaring vocal athleticism. Watch an opera singer breathe in before belting out a big note--their whole body shudders.

As an artist, do you think you work is political? What is the connection between protest and art-making? My most recent show, Uneasiness In Culture (at Eyedrum earlier this year), is my most political work to date. The show featured a series of sculptures where bread dough worked its way through concrete enclosures. A collective body breathing together and pressing their vulnerability against seemingly implacable obstacles can become an image of political resistance. 

An important part of the relationship between art and politics is that we fight political fights in order to make space for life-enhancing art. In WWII, Churchill famously argued that art and culture are what we are fighting for. So even when the art is not directly taking on political subject matter, I still find it incumbent on me as an artist and citizen to be politically involved in order that art may continue to have a place in our culture. 

What was the seminal experience that got you to the work you are making now? When my daughter was a toddler, she loved baking with me. We used to make a big pile of dough and then knead and punch and squish it. We'd finger paint with the flour spread out on the table. One day, I set a bowl of bread dough out to rise and completely forgot about it as we moved on to dinner, bath, and bedtime. The next morning, I saw a horribly bloated lump of bread dough surging out of the bowl, tipping it over. Much of the art I've made in the last four years began in that moment.

What are you working on currently? In a few weeks, I'll be part of a group show with my fellow Walthall Fellowship members at MOCA-GA (opening in July). I'm working on a giant painting on window screening for that show.

I've also been working on lots of paintings made with tar lately. And I have tons of extra footage that didn't make it into Air (an opera for breath) and will likely be shaped into a series of animated shorts.

JF

IC Interview: Olga Sidilkovskaya

We wanted to follow up with some of our grant winners in a series of interviews. Olga Sidilkovskaya is a photographer with thoughts on mirrors, misconceptions and finding control in art-making.

What do you feel you are trying to communicate with your work? Although I have lived here, in the States, for quite some time, I still often feel detached from my environment. Having moved here from Russia when I was thirteen years old, I am still processing and analyzing life as an alien today. That feeling bothered me for a long time, but I have grown to see it as an advantage, and as an outlet for my work. There is an old trick I learned in my drawing classes in art school that helps view your work objectively without spending much time away from it – you hold it up in front of the mirror.  Then, you see it for what it really is and know what you need to do to improve it. If only that worked with people! I use my field camera to capture that objectivity in landscapes. The process is important, as it flips and inverts the landscape on the ground glass, and the paper negative, and the scanner, further deconstructing it before creating a vaguely different interpretation. Perhaps, I would like my work to inspire the viewers to consider how familiar they are with their own environment, and notice it more on their daily commutes.

OSidilkovskaya5.jpg

What do you like most about the art that you make? Some of my landscapes feel sanitized and typological, while others are otherworldly and romanticized. All of them have a calm contemplative quality, which is sometimes difficult to seek out in the age of screens and social media.

What is your motivating factor in creating artistic work? Making photographs is therapeutic for me. There are thoughts and concepts that I cannot quite put into words, and I find that my art is an extension of what it is I am trying to communicate. I feel like the best version of myself when I am working [on art], and when I am not, I feel down. So, I guess you can say that it makes me whole. Perhaps, that is when I feel like I am most in control.

What are you favorite materials to work with? Growing up I loved digging through my family’s “old stuff” cabinet. Among WWII medals, binoculars, old letters, and other miscellanea, there were photo albums filled with homemade silver gelatin prints of my grandparents and parents’ lives. Even though my mother hated my inability to fit everything back in the cabinet, those prints made by hand in old Stalinist apartment’s bathrooms, from the film loaded into developing tanks under heavy wool coats, left quite an impact, even though I did not realize it at the time. I have since been enamored with analogue, darkroom, and chemistry that goes into creating photographs. My weapon of choice at the moment is a Zone VI walnut 4x5 camera named Bernard, and silver gelatin paper negatives. 

Who are your influences? I love typological work because it shows parallels and interconnectedness of everything in the world. It is a simple concept, but there is no limit to its depth. Although my work is not typology in the strictest sense of the word, the approach informs my work. Bernd and Hilla Becher’s dedication and deadpan technique were influences quite early on. They isolated structures from their context and presented them as abstract, peculiar objects. Thomas Struth’s Nature and Politics series is mind blowing in its size and gravity. Similar to the Bechers’, his approach is architectural, but also anthropological. His photographs are a testament to civilization and its effect on the world. Not too long ago I rediscovered Josef Koudelka’s landscapes, in particular, a selection of his landscape panoramas by PACE McGill Gallery, titled Twelve Panoramas. They are beautiful technically, grandiose aesthetically, and grave conceptually. His landscapes are out of this world, estranged and unbelievable. There are many more influences of all kinds, but these are just some of my visual heroes.

 Thomas Struth - Har Homa, East Jerusalem, 2009

Thomas Struth - Har Homa, East Jerusalem, 2009

 Bernd & Hilla Becher – Water Towers   1972-2009

Bernd & Hilla Becher – Water Towers

1972-2009

 Josef Koudelka – Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France, 1989   

Josef Koudelka – Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France, 1989

 

What is the connection between protest and art-making? I think that any kind of creation is a kind of protest, a protest against nothingness and death. Artists die, and their work keeps on living, carrying the weight of their name through centuries. Some people do not like or understand art, but the beauty of it, is that if those people took a moment to learn about it and get to know it, they will most likely feel like they can relate to it. Just like with people of different backgrounds, sitting down and having a dialogue opens a pathway to understanding. That is the protest of art, against ignorance, misconceptions and judgments.

What are you working on currently? Currently, I am photographing Atlanta Watershed landscapes and architecture. I am intrigued by the function of the Watershed’s manufactured landscape and how it fits into Atlanta’s urban environment. There are some great geological aspects that are totally bizarre out of the context of their function.

 

JF

IC Fundraiser coming this Sunday

Italy is More than a Place...It's an Idea!
Celebrate La Dolce Vita at Idea Capital’s Annual Fundraiser
Sunday, June 11 from 4-7 p.m. at Villa de Murph.
 
Join Idea Capital’s steering committee, supporters, artists and arts patrons at the stunning West End architecture studio of BLDGS for a celebration of the launch of our 2017 grant cycle.

A limited number of "early bird tickets" are available at a special price of $15 each. Regular advance tickets are priced at $25 per person and $40 per couple.  In addition, please consider making a larger donation to the 2017 grant fund at the party, on our website or here on Eventbrite. 
 
Partygoers will enjoy a taste of the Italian countryside in Atlanta’s burgeoning creative nexus, home to the West End Trail expansion of the Atlanta BeltLine and a community of artists and urban pioneers. We’ll raise money to support Idea Capital’s next grant cycle while enjoying a taste of Italy with cocktails, food and décor inspired by the country’s cuisine, culture and la dolce vita. Our supporters will be entertained by our talented grant winners, enjoy delicious bites from culinary diva Alisa Barry, creator of Bella Cucina Artful Food, and rock to the sounds of DJ Ben Coleman. Our friend Katie Rice will select an assortment of Italian wines from Barcelona VinoTecafor our drinking pleasure.
 
Supporting Atlanta artists working across all disciplines to create edgy innovative work will have a genuine impact on our Atlanta arts community. Please secure your tickets and donate generously to ensure another banner year for Idea Capital and the talented artists that we support with our grants.

We hope you will join in celebrating the launch of our 2017 fundraising campaign!

Most Sincerely,

The Idea Capital Steering Committee
Cubby West, Felicia Feaster, Jess Bernhart, Jody Fausett, Louise Shaw, Mary Stanley, Michael Gibson, Oronike Odeleye and Sam Romo
 
About Idea Capital
Idea Capital is a grassroots initiative founded in 2008 to help jump start Atlanta-based artist-initiated projects that might not otherwise be supported through mainstream arts institutions.  The organization and its grants are entirely funded through donations from artists and other arts supporters in the Atlanta community. The Steering Committee, who administer the grant process and fundraising efforts, voluntarily donate their time and expertise. In 2009, Idea Capital teamed with the regional arts activist organization Alternate Roots, which allowed Idea Capital participants to make their investments tax-deductible. Idea Capital encourages the Atlanta community to become investors in arts innovation in Atlanta by making an online donation

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IC Interview: Laura Noel

We wanted to check in with some of our grant winners in a series of art interviews. Laura Noel's work looks at chance encounter, the public and private, and the idea of time. Her work travels from photography and words and now to sculpture. 

 

Where were you born? Atlanta

What are your favorite materials to work with? I love all sorts of paper, including lists, bills and notes found on the street, shipping labels, construction paper and old books. I also love stencils that have been painted over a hundred times. 

In the past materials were not as important to me since I was working mainly in photography. Now that I am branching out into installation art and collage, I am getting interested in fabric. I recently made a series of four ponchos for a project called The Empathy Experiment that is showing at ArtFields in April. Each fabric is made of a different material that represents an emotion or economic status - burlap, wool for a man’s suit, satin and this odd padded upholstery fabric. So I really like the way the fabric suggests a story line - visitors are encouraged to wear each poncho and imagine themselves in someone else’s life when they wear the pieces. 

What is your motivating factor in creating artistic work? I am obsessed with the passage of time - the futility of trying to stop time from progressing really distresses me. Creating art or writing or producing something that has the potential to outlast me is a kind of bulwark against time. I am also really interested in language. I hear phrases on the radio all the time that inspire projects - just yesterday I heard someone say “blood and treasure,” and while I haven’t thought of anything to make in response to that phrase yet, I know it will percolate in my mind until something is formed. About half of my photographic projects began because of a phrase I heard. Oddly the phrase usually comes first, then the work - it is not about naming something I have already created. A new photographic project about the strange inability to know your own self is called The Inside Dog Barks the Loudest - hearing a friend utter that phrase, gave me clarity for the project. 

What do you like most about the art that you make? I have the ability to notice moments and details around me, and this gift of seeing is in my best photographs. I always go through phases with my work where I love it, I hate it and then after some time goes by I can objectively edit the good from the ordinary.

Sometimes I am touched by the permanence a really special piece of art has for me - it seems less temporary than some relationships or events.

Who are your influences?

My first artistic loves were the great street photographers: Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alex Webb, Gary Winogrand, Diane Arbus and Sylvia Plachy. I still love street photography and shoot all the time, but most of the time when I photograph life moving around me, I am building an archive of images that I will use later in some kind of narrative way. Making photo books is another passion. There is this brilliant photo novel called And Every Day was Overcast by Paul Kwiatkowski that really socked me in the gut. My style is nothing like his snapshot aesthetic, but the way he was able to combine text and images in such a moving way inspired me to do something similar in my own voice.

sylvia-plachy-alldayeveryday-everybodysteet-original-02a63b004d7d2ae075c36a2cc9d6f0e2.jpeg

The first art you saw that informed your practice and let you know this was possibility to become an artist? Having an undergraduate professor show the class The Americans was groundbreaking for me. I was a junior and had never seriously taken photos before. I was a Public Policy major, but after that class, I pursued photography in a very single minded way. The idea of making art was new to me. I assumed I’d be some kind of professional person like an attorney or a political consultant.

What do you feel you are trying to communicate with your work? Though ideas about time and its inaccessibility is a current that runs through a lot of my work, each project I do has a different meaning. My work is not always about one intense overarching theme. I made several bodies of photographs about American individuality. I admire people who have a strong sense of themselves and fully inhabit their own stories - though I am more interested in people who do this quietly than in activists.

As an artist, do you think you work is political? Sometimes my work is political, but my own viewpoint is often neutral within the art, itself. I do make art about public policy decisions and social trends/changes in society that affect people. For example, I spent 10 years off and on photographing smokers in light of the ban on public smoking. Some would say that is a political issue - health care is political. I am more interested in the psychological reasons people smoke and the idea of being a kind of social refugee forced into solitary spaces because of a habit, though of course, it is a deadly one.

I did go to both political conventions last summer - I am just now putting that work together - it’s called Outside Convention - I was not credentialed as media, and I was interested in what was happening on the fringes of both Cleveland and Philadelphia - the theater of the street. Big events like conventions heighten the drama that is already present and good pictures reveal themselves.

What are you working on currently?  I am working on several projects. Most importantly I am putting the finishing touches on my book, The Lookout, which I received an Idea Capital Grant for. The Lookout is a book of found poetry and street photography. The viewer senses the presence of other people in the images and reads their spoken words, but can’t see anyone. It is beautiful and eerie all at once. I am about to shop the book to publishers and apply for various contests for book dummies. 

My second major new project is tentatively called Books That Won’t Open - this is an assemblage piece made of books that have been altered in sort of brutal or very permanent ways, like being painted shut or reshaped as sculptures.

And last but not least I have spent the last two years working on several new bodies of photographic work that are showcased on my new site - www.amaterialwitness.com. The work is very different from my previous photographs that were all based on places and people that are around me. The new projects use still life images made formally in the studio and work that is created inside software to address issues of time and the self. I am interested in the idea that a person has to get to know themselves, even though they are their own inescapable subject. This sort of internal monolog needed to be explored in ways that are new to me, which is why I have shifted the way I work so much. 

Those new bodies of work are called Marmoreal, Crawling Backwards and The Inside Dog Barks the Loudest.

JF

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closing reception for Steve Morrison at Eyedrum this Saturday

Exhibition of Steve Morrison's show at Eyedrum is closing with a reception this Saturday. Steve is one of this year's Idea Capital Grant Winners. 


Closing: February 11, 8p-10pm
Gallery hours: Saturday 12-6pm and by appointment

Eyedrum Gallery 88 Forsyth Street SW Atlanta GA 30303

“Uneasiness In Culture is a new body of work from Atlanta artist Steve Morrison. Inspired by Freudian psychology, the ancient epic of Gilgamesh, puppetry and baking, this work explores natural cyclical processes of growth and decay and our collective need to interpret meaning. The multimedia show includes paintings, sculptures, and a series of animated video pieces. Steve’s surprising use of bread in various stages of development is unique and intriguing.

“The word ‘culture’ describes the yeast culture acting as a performance troupe as well as highlighting the uneasiness that some may be feeling in the present political situation.” — Steve Morrison

 

Society Superhero Art-Making Workshops with Joseph Bigley at The High

 

This coming Sunday, Feb 12th at the High Museum of Atlanta from 1-4 pm is a workshop with Joseph Bigley. He is one of this year's Idea Capital grant winners. 


Location: Greene Family Education Center, Lower Level, Stent Family Wing


Work with Spelman College students and High Museum teaching artist Joseph Bigley to create your own story for a superhero who helps the community. On the second Sunday of each month the museum offers free admission for all visitors and special family-friendly programming from 1 to 4 p.m.

To help ensure your family has a great experience at the High Museum, check out Second Sunday Social Story (información en español). This will give you a sense of what to expect during your visit.

Please note: Admission is free from 12 noon to 5 p.m. Programming takes place from 1 to 4 p.m.