In July I was selected as a WonderRoot CSA artist for Season Four. This is a great program based on the model of agricultural CSAs, where you “subscribe” to receive boxes of vegetables… you never know exactly what will be in each box, but you know it will be fresh and locally-grown. In this case the box contains fresh art made by six different local artists, who are each commissioned to create 40 pieces of work. The program thus provides both financial support to local artists, as well as an accessible entry point for people who are interested in collecting art, but who may not know where to start or have much money to begin. The work is distributed in three pick-up parties scheduled from September to December.
The first WonderRoot CSA pickup-party was held on Wednesday, September 17th, at the Hammonds House Museum. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I had never been to the Hammonds House before, and this turned out to be the case for several people in attendance. WonderRoot is to be commended for planning the CSA pick-up parties at different locations around the city, taking participants to places they may not have otherwise visited. I arrived a few minutes early, and while waiting for the party to begin I enjoyed walking around this gorgeous East Lake Victorian home-turned-museum and taking in the show they had up, particularly the absolutely stunning lino prints by artist Steve Prince. Soon a crowd had gathered and the evening’s talks got underway.
Joe Tsambiras talked about his intaglio print, Cairn, explaining that it was inspired by cairns found as markers along trails in Greece, where passers-by would add their own stone to the pile for luck. This story attracted me, because the idea of way-stones is an archetype that I have found resonant within my own life’s journey. Thinking about travelers adding their own stones to these markers, as if to say I was here too, seemed to relate to the act of creating art, each artwork a stone left in passing.
When I got home I looked up cairns on Wikipedia out of curiosity, and discovered that they are found all over the earth, in all cultures—just like art is. I also learned that according to Greek mythology the first cairn was associated with Hermes. Joe had mentioned that the piece had references to Hermes in it, and that adding a stone to a cairn was thought to bring good fortune from him. I thought this was just because Hermes is associated with travelers, so learning that he is directly associated with the cairns themselves added a new layer of meaning. Hermes is also the god of boundaries and transitions, able to move between our world and that of the gods. Boundaries and transitions tend to be where artists are found as well, bringing our work out of the worlds within ourselves to this one. Who couldn’t use a little extra luck for that journey?
Next, Danielle Brutto talked about her paintings from a series called Peaks. These are a combination of painting and collage, inspired by her fascination with the mountains of the American west. When she described how she began the series for the CSA by creating one very large painting as a foundation, which she then broke apart into the individual pieces and collaged the landscape of peaks into them, I was struck by how that process paralleled the actual mountain-building process, where an underlying layer of solid rock is pushed up and broken apart into mountains by the creative processes of geology.
Danielle also talked about how she saves bits of painted paper or tape that she tears off in the creation of the larger collage pieces, so she can reuse them and incorporate them into new works. I related this to how great mountains are broken down into ever smaller pieces—boulders, rocks, stones, pebbles, sand—each creating new conditions and a new landscape. The creative force of the universe wastes nothing.
And here then are two completely different artists, who had not previously met, working in different mediums, whose works are unexpectedly connected by piles of rock: enormous peaks and human-scale cairns. I liked that serendipity. Good luck, you might call it.
Many thanks to WonderRoot and the Hammonds House Museum for hosting us, and to the artists and collectors who attended. I am looking forward to the next talks on October 23rd, when Terri Dilling and Daniel Flores will be speaking about their work. I believe there are still CSA shares available, so I would encourage you to consider becoming a shareholder if you are not already. Six lovely pieces of work by six different local artists for only $400 is such a steal, and goes a long way to helping build a sustainable creative ecology in Atlanta. I hope to see you with your box of art in hand at the next pick-up party!