Lily Kuonen is a visual artist who works in between painting, drawing, installation, and constructed elements. She has shown her work in solo and group exhibitions on three continents, in four countries, and in 18 different U.S. states. In less than 15 years of actively showing her work, Kuonen has participated in 85+ exhibitions. This figure is even more remarkable when you take into consideration the fact that for nearly seven of those years Kuonen was an honor student pursuing an undergraduate degree from the University of Central Arkansas followed by a graduate degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design. And, since 2011, she has worked full-time at Jacksonville University, where she is now Associate Professor of Art and Foundations Coordinator.
As an artist, Kuonen casts tradition aside. She continuously examines and redefines the mediums and processes through which she creates. In 2009, Kuonen coined the term PLAYNTING (play + painting) to characterize her studio practice, which involves integrating painting with additional forms, materials, surfaces, and actions. Kuonen has worked with a number of non-normative materials, including saw dust, ratchet straps, peg board, and cinder blocks. Her fascination with a material typically continues even after a series is complete. It isn't uncommon for materials from one series to be repurposed for a future series.
Being Invested in the Success of Others - 10 Questions with Writer Laura Chow Reeve, Recipient of the 2017 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers
"Butterfly in the sky. I can go twice as high..." If you're of a certain age group, the chances are high that you're already singing the lines that follow those words - as well as affectionately reminiscing about the television series for which those words served as the opening line to the theme song. That show was PBS's "Reading Rainbow," hosted by LeVar Burton.
From 1983 until 2006, "Reading Rainbow" served as an educational and entertaining production that encouraged children to read. The show provided elementary level discussions around themes, and book recommendations were made by children who participated in the program. Imagine how you would feel if you were one of the countless children turned on to books and reading through the series and years later you heard LeVar Burton reading YOUR work on a publicly published platform. That's the story of writer Laura Chow Reeve.
We do not have the fortune of choosing every situation that life bestows upon us. Because of that, at various points in our lives we find ourselves facing personal tribulations, seemingly unsurpassable obstacles, and overwhelming adversity. Though we may not be able to control what situations life presents us, we do have the ability to choose how we respond to these circumstances.
Struggles and challenges not only test our character but can also build our character. What we overcome, and who we grow to become as a result of what we endured, can be crafted into a narrative that serves to both differentiate us from and connect us to others. Such is the case for guitarist and singer-songwriter Raul Midón.
Midón and his twin brother were born prematurely in a rural hospital in New Mexico. As a result of their early arrival, the two newborns were placed inside an incubator. Doctors neglected to provide the twins with the necessary eye protection, which led to the brothers losing their eyesight.
Midón, whose parents are of Argentine and African American descent, grew up in a household that provided him with direct access to the arts. His father, an Argentinian folkloric dancer, placed a drum in his hands when he was four years old. He eventually replaced the drums with a guitar and started receiving lessons while enrolled at a school for the blind. Midón continued to pursue music through high school, and after graduation he enrolled at the University of Miami to study under their jazz curriculum.
It's a little after 8:00 PM on Wednesday, October 5th. It is the first Wednesday of the month, which means Art Walk in downtown Jacksonville. The Coniferous Cafe on West Monroe Street is hosting an event to support the launch of "Nick Name," a local zine. It's drizzling rain outside but inside it's dry and a group of supportive twenty and thirty-somethings are gathered to warmly support the evening's programming.
Part of that programming includes a stripped-down performance by Rania Woodard. A shy and gentle smile is on the face of the 23 year old singer/songwriter as she stands in front of the crowd, most of whom smile back at her affectionally. The crowd of people are not strangers to Woodard's work. They patiently await for her to begin her set and when she does they sway and sing along to her words and melodies.
Woodard plucks the opening notes of "Still," a song she released last year under the moniker LANNDS. Since its release, the song has received a considerable amount of attention in the indie-electronic scene. Woodard's guitar is tuned and her amp is dialed in so that the notes she plays are both haunting and soothing - think the opening notes of Jeff Buckley's cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."
Putting the Emphasis on Process - 10 Questions with Visual Artist and Arts Integration Specialist Natalie Hyder
Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) has made a pledge to revitalize education through use of the arts. In an effort to support this goal, DCPS created the position of Arts Integration Specialist and hired artist and arts educator Natalie Hyder to serve in the role. Going into the 2017-2018 academic year, four schools in Duval County were designated as arts integration schools. Those schools include Hyde Park Elementary School, Hyde Grove Early Learning Center, John Love Early Learning Center, and Brentwood Elementary School. Within these schools, it is the mission of DCPS to facilitate a cultural shift, improve teaching and learning, and ensure the success of every student enrolled.
Hyder received her undergraduate degree in studio art and art history from Florida State University in 2008. In 2016 she completed graduate school at the University of Florida, where she studied art education. Hyder served in the classroom as an arts educator for eight years until she moved with her husband from Tallahassee to Jacksonville in the summer of 2017.
With a population of nearly 900,000 residents, it should come as no surprise that there are many different opinions on the type of city that Jacksonville, Florida should aim to be. Among the sea of opinions, however, one voice recently proclaimed thoughtful and forward thinking sentiments. That voice belongs to City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche. During her Installation Ceremony, which was held on June 29, 2017, Council President Brosche stated in simple yet bold terms that she aims for Jacksonville to be "the best city in the world for a child to grow up in."
Now the question comes, what metrics do you employ when quantifying or qualifying how well a city serves its youth population? Sherrod Brown, Co-Founder and Director of The Posh Factory Performing Arts Center, believes without question that one such indispensable metric is a child's access to and instruction in the arts. The Posh Factory offers dance training and education in the style of ballet, jazz, modern, and hip-hop, as well as vocal and musical theatre training. The organization does not believe in turning away any child that has a passion for music, dance, or acting. Brown and his co-founding partner, Rashon Horne, raise funds to support children of low and no income families through tuition scholarships.
A Marker of Interesting Thinking - 10 Questions with Mixed-Media Visual Artist and Folio Weekly Arts and Entertainment Editor Madeleine Peck Wagner
Madeliene Peck Wagner is a mixed-media visual artist. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Clark University (Worcester, Massachusetts) and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)(Savannah, Georgia). Peck Wagner explores with both form and materials to create work that challenges societal norms surrounding human behavior. Her body of work examines concepts such as consumption as it relates to capitalism and imperfection as it relates to beauty.
Cathedral Arts Project is hosting an exhibition of Peck Wagner's work in the Heather Moore Community Gallery during the fourth quarter of 2017, with an opening reception scheduled to be held on October 12th. The exhibition, titled "The Labor of Learning," will feature new work by Peck Wagner, some of which the artist has dedicated the last three years to developing. In her latest series, Peck Wagner utilizes two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms to visualize an internal monologue pertaining to body composition and how our mental perceptions are sometimes exaggerated forms of reality. Her series illustrates that the concept of beauty is subjective to the beholder and that there is no textbook definition of allurement.
Located at 112 E Adams Street, The 5 & Dime is a nonprofit theatre company that opens its doors to artists of all disciplines whose passions, skills, drive, and enthusiasm need a place to call home. The theatre was founded by a group of artists and friends in 2011 who came together with a common goal of developing Jacksonville's arts and culture community, with the specific intention of seeing theatre productions within the urban core. Advocating for change and then actually defining an approach to achieve that change can feel overwhelming. This may be one of the reasons why individuals adopt an apathetic attitude, one that is echoed by sentiments such as "it is what it is." Instead of accepting things as they were, when questioning who could serve as agents of change, the 5 & Dime's founding group thought "Why not us?". With that belief in mind, they sought ways to harness their talents to enrich life in Northeast Florida.
Initially nomadic out of necessity, The 5 & Dime dedicated the first five years of operations to building their brand while keeping their overhead low. They partnered with various hosting venues when bringing their productions to life. In February 2017 the company scaled its operations and found a stable home in Jacksonville's urban core. They now reciprocate to the creative community the same hospitality that they were previously shown by opening the doors to their 80-seat theater and lobby gallery to artists looking for a place to host performances and exhibitions.
In his 1976 book "The Selfish Gene," biologist and author Richard Dawkins coined the word meme as an attempt to explain the way cultural information spreads. Internet memes are the byproduct of the digital age. They are most often images or videos that are accompanied by mimicry or humorous captions and they spread rapidly from one person to another through online channels. Memes are now shared most broadly through social media but they gained their initial popularity in message boards and blogs. Acting as inside jokes, the memes of message boards provided a self-reflective commentary on niche subcultures.
Memes have now made their way into the mainstream and often relate to news accounts, social interactions, or pop culture happenings. They serve as both commentary and parody. This type of mockery existed in the art world well before memes were a part of our common vernacular. In some ways, memes can be viewed as a second coming of the Dada art movement, which spanned from 1916 through 1924 and served as commentary on materialism and nationalistic attitudes that arose after World War I.
This relationship is not lost on fine artist Tony Rodrigues, who is also an avid art historian. Through painting, photography, and printmaking, Rodrigues creates work that appropriates images from popular culture and places them in different contexts. It isn't uncommon for Rodrigues's work to incorporate timeworn materials, such as old textbooks, magazines, and safety manuals that he bought at garage sales and thrift stores. In his work, Rodrigues employs images from past and present alike to create a skewed sense of nostalgia. His repurposed images convey feelings that range from quiet levity to somber introspection.
In the simplest terms, Aaron Levi Garvey is an arts professional. In more detailed terms, he is a writer, lecturer, consultant, and an independent curator of museums, galleries, and non-traditional spaces. In 2015, Garvey co-founded Long Road Projects (LRP) with his wife, Stevie Covart Garvey. The artist residency program and edition publishing house serves as a platform for artistic experimentation, community engagement, and education. Since its inception, LRP has hosted five resident artists, including: Lala Abaddon, Gamaliel Rodriguez, Tameka Norris, Joshua Short, and Paul Weiner. The foundation also recently announced the fall and winter 2017 residencies of Curtis Santiago and Sheida Soleimani.
Garvey is also the newest arts professional to be appointed to the Art in Public Places Committee, which consists of 11 Mayor-appointed volunteers. The Committee is composed of two members from the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville's Board of Directors, three arts professionals, and six community representatives. The Committee is responsible for commissioning artists and artworks for the Art in Public Places Program. They oversee the selection, placement, installation, and maintenance of art on City-owned public property.
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