Hi! My name is Sheridan Kate Murray, and I am serving as the Creative Placemaking Studio intern for this fall semester. I’m an Asheville, NC native and a senior at Wofford, pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a B.A. in Art History. I’ve got a passion for community engagement, and am experienced with art-making, so all things considered, this internship seemed like a great fit. In my art-making practice, I tend to focus heavily on how sense of self and sense of place are often intertwined, and this is a concept I hope to pursue with this internship. I am really intrigued by the Creative Placemaking initiative as someone who comes from an area with a budding arts and cultural scene and a strong sense of place-rooted pride.
It’s my firm belief that art is a universal right, something that should be made accessible to everyone, and I also believe that exposure to creative moments is also an amazing way to increase community involvement. A quote I come back to time and time again in my own life is by Howard Zinn, and it reads, “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” If done right, I believe I can absolutely apply this time-tested quote to my time as Creative Placemaking intern.
My personal goal is to ultimately walk away from this internship feeling confident that I have a sense of how to best serve a place like Spartanburg through art and creative engagement. This goal will likely be accomplished through the design, production and implementation of community art installations in the cultural center, meant to encourage all visitors to enjoy an art-making experience that will also enable them to feel that they’ve contributed in a meaningful way to the place they call home. Another angle for community involvement will come from the artists in residents that will be calling Spartanburg home themselves for a few months, and ultimately will be leaving their own creative marks on this unique town.
Last week, I had the chance to sit down with the Cultural Center’s artists-in-residence, Marisa and Ambrin, and got to pick their brain about their individual artistic pasts as well as the unique reasons that drew them to Spartanburg. Ambrin, an artist from the Chicago area, specializes in works on paper that range from paintings and drawings as well as sculptures and installations as of late. Ambrin has been really interested in the idea of place, and how place can relate to identity and belonging and how these concepts can be applied to certain groups of people. She’s also really interested in creating works of art that require both artists and viewers to reevaluate what it can mean to truly “belong” in a space. Ambrin was drawn to the Cultural Center because she, like myself, is really interested in the concept of making place-themed art in a place she is relatively unfamiliar with. She’s most excited to work in a shared space with Marisa while also pursuing her individual projects.
Marisa, a painter and Long Island native, fostered a sense of performative art early on in her artistic career, eventually allowing this instinct to point her in the direction of performance art itself. Her work has been based around food and gender, and how these topics can interact. She recently has been interested in domestic spaces surrounding food, and how food signifies so many social and cultural components of a society. Marisa has been exploring these themes through performance art lately, as well as photorealistic paintings and movies. Marisa was also drawn to the Cultural Center because of the dualistic nature of the fellowship, involving working collaboratively on a project while also pursuing her own independent projects. The idea of being somewhere for a year is something that has also drawn her to this residency, as many other programs don’t allow enough time to really plug into a place.
Sitting down with the artists-in-residence has made me even more excited to be involved in this internship. It’s rare that a college student gets to interact with practicing artists on a professional level at all, much less inspiring artists like these two ladies that are also focused on a sense of place in their own work. I look forward to the coming weeks, in which I will be developing community-based art installations for the Cultural Center that will hopefully interact with and respond to the work of the artists-in-residence in some way!