Last quarter finished up nicely, and I had a chance to meet with my advisor to discuss the rest of my classes. I have an internship, one class and then a final project left to finish. Several months ago, I had the crazy idea to try to do an internship with a nationally known clay organization. An internship is an opportunity to do something big and make some great connections, so why not take it, right? Right, so I whittled my options to two choices, Northern Clay Center and Baltimore Clayworks. I approached Clayworks because it’s a little closer, and I had a few connections there already. Long story short, I’ve been working with Clayworks this quarter, and since I am doing a remote/on-site internship, it will extend into the summer as well.
I am working with the Development Director at Clayworks, Emily Sollenberger Dobbins, who just happens to be a past SCAD Arts Administration graduate. What does a development director do? Well, she is a fundraiser, which can include writing grants, requesting donations or hosting events that bring in funds. She also works closely with the other staff and the executive director in order to understand the needs and capabilities of the nonprofit in a big picture way. The development director has to ultimately believe in the mission of the organization while understanding the city and residents and possessing a strong relationship with the donors.
Did I mention that I have one class to take? Guess what class that is? Raising Funds for Nonprofits, aka “how to be a development director.” I admitted to Emily that I didn’t know much about fundraising, but she still agreed to take me on as an intern, and it’s been a fantastic experience. Now, my original feelings towards fundraising were not positive ones. Those normally include discomfort, nervousness and resistance to name a few, but I think that might be because of the limited exposure I have to well-planned fundraising efforts. My thoughts gravitate to childhood Krispy Kreme donut sales, soliciting, or telethons/telemarketing. Meh. These are not examples of what Emily does, and I am now aware of what professional fundraising looks like.
Front lawn of Clayworks’ gallery and administrative building
Cool street art we found walking home from dinner.
I visited Baltimore last month for the first time, I was energized by the excitement, compassion and dedication of the entire organization. I went to help with their Clayworks BASH! (annual gala) and to be introduced to everyone I have been communicating with so far. My main time will be spent with SCAD is on break, June 1-12. Emily has given me the role as her assistant for one of Clayworks’ annual fundraisers, the Seconds Sale. It will be happening June 5-7, when I’m there, and I’ve been working all quarter to prepare as much as possible before visiting. Have I mentioned how excited I am about this overall experience? 🙂
The weekend after Baltimore, I traveled to Lake City, SC, to be a part of the Artfields event/exhibition. I was accepted into the show last year, and wanted to make a trip before the festivities ended. Now, let’s get some background information about Lake City. It is about 15 mins from my childhood home and where my mom has worked for over 30 years. It was nothing glamorous…seriously; think small town that is mostly rural and becoming slightly urban with a big emphasis on agriculture. Sonic and Wal-Mart (back before they were all super centers) were the big attractions when I was in high school. Now imagine my surprise when I hear about a huge art competition that is happening there two years ago. For various reasons, I only just applied to be a part of the competition this year. So, when I travel to Lake City this March to drop off my work at the selected location, I was amazed by how the downtown area had been transformed since I last visited (maybe 5-8 years ago). There was a wine bar. Enough said.
To give you a better idea of how overwhelmed I was by Artfields, let me tell you about the judges. For the review panel 2015, there was the Director of the GA Museum of Art, Director of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the President and founder of Leslie Rankow Fine Arts, a New York based art advisory firm for collectors of contemporary, modern and American art. There is another panel of five other judges with similar credentials. These are serious professionals from their respective fields, and they are coming to Lake City to judge an art show? I was still in some disbelief, but I continued to be impressed throughout my trip there that weekend. Let me give you a quick tour of some of the 400 pieces of artwork that caught my attention.
Jones Carter Gallery—a phenomenal space
Jim Arendt from Conway, SC
Hongsock Lee from Savannah, GA
Mark Gordon from Wilson, NC. Glazed earthenware.
Mike Lavine from Rock Hill, SC. This piece is composed of small hardwood shavings.
Virginia Eckinger from Birmingham, AL. Ceramic and aluminum.
Jackson Martin from Asheville, NC.
Russell Bellamy from Leesburg, FL.
Russell’s sign. Apparently adults were the ones trying to ride the horses, not the kids.
Staci Leech-Cornell from Nitro, WV.
Margie Bach from Savannah, GA. Mixed media with ceramic sculpture.
The entire body is all clay and fired in one piece. So impressive.
Carl Peverall from Burnsville, NC. Mom is generously providing scale for the piece.
The R.O.B. (Ragsdale Old Building) was once a tobacco warehouse and charcoal briquette factory.
Inside the R.O.B. 22,000 sq ft of art ladies and gentleman.
Alex Podesta from New Orleans, LA.
Priscilla Hollingsworth from Augusta, GA.
Detail of the mixed media installation including ceramic sculpture and paintings.
Lynne Riding from Charleston, SC.
Detail of the paper vessels with site-specific found materials.
Alexandra Knox from Conway, SC.
Herb Parker from Charleston, SC.
Alexi Torres from Atlanta, GA.
Detail of the 9 ft x 7 ft painting of tiny RIBBONS. Pictures don’t do this justice.
Christopher Payne from Montgomery, AL. Clay, oil, and enamel.
Voyeur Designs Gina Thompson from Atlanta, GA
Jessica Reynolds from Anderson, SC.
Detail of felt, fabric, and paint.
Anelecia Hannah Brooks from Wilmington, NC
This might be one of my favorite pieces because it’s awesome, but mainly the title.
Larry Merriman from Hartsville, SC. For all you Steel Magnolia fans out there. Those brown things are 21,000 magnolia leaves.
Jane Allen Nodine from Spartanburg, SC.
Detail of the wax, wire, fiber, wood, and cord.
The artwork was outstanding—engaging content that was beautifully crafted and well-presented. Like the judges, the artists are all professionals from different backgrounds and using different mediums. I tended to be attracted to the 3-D and ceramic-based mediums, but I’m biased what can I say? Oh, and did I mention that all of these artists were competing for $100,000 worth of prizes? The top winner was given $50,000. Check out the Artfields website to see the winners. It would have been really nice to win, but I got the chance to hang out with my mom and see the incredible way that art can transform a community.
My piece was on display in Main Street Mercantile (whose manager is my high school best friend’s mom), and I got to see a lot of familiar and new faces. One new face was an artist, Tiffany Thomas, who was selling her ceramics in a Farmers and Artisan Market that was coinciding with Artfields. I scored a delightful new cup and was encouraged meeting a new potter near my hometown. So what could make this day better (besides the obvious 50k)? How about meeting Bill Murray?! Rumor is that he was there because he has a home in Charleston, SC, and is friends with the sponsor of Artfields, who also has a house in Charleston. Yeah, I was wet-my-pants excited. Literally, I went in the store where my piece was on display to use the restroom, heard Bill was across the street at the aforementioned wine bar, forgot all about the restroom and dragged my mom with me to be that obnoxious fan girl who asks to take an awkward picture with him. It was THE.BEST.DAY.EVER.
“Caged Bowl” on display in Main Street Mercantile.
The store was a fantastic place for the piece!
Me and Mom
Tiffany Thomas Art
Bill was serious, so I made a serious face too.
Then he leaned on me and made me laugh.