'Ascension' exhibit showcases works by artists-in-studio at Academy Lofts

the creatives project
Artist Chloe Alexander has several pieces featured in "Ascension." (Artimio Black)

The Creatives Project is Atlanta’s first nonprofit that supports artists by offering affordable housing programs. Last fall, the Academy Lofts of Adair Park opened 30 residential micro-units, including 10 specifically as spaces for Atlanta artists to live affordably while also showcasing their talents. The Creatives Project recently opened their annual #artofcommunity exhibition, “Ascension,” to showcase the artists’ works. Founder Neda Abghari joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom and Chloe Alexander, one of the Creatives Project’s artists-in-studio at Academy Lofts, to talk about the program and the vibrant working artist community it helps foster.

“The idea for TCP actually came about in 2009 when the market had crashed,” said Abghari. “I knew a number of investors, and I knew a number of artists. All of us were in an interesting state with the economy being what it was, and so I just had this idea — what if I was to bring my networks together? What if I could bring the investors that I know together with the artists that I know to support the communities that we love through a residency program?”

Before the Academy Lofts were created to house Creatives Project artists, Abghari worked out of her own studio space at the Telephone Factory Lofts in Poncey-Highland. Inspired by the affordable living and working space the Telephone Factory made attainable, she began to conceive her vision of a future artist community. “From the time I had that idea, I think it was probably five years later that I met Stan Sugarman and Atticus LeBlanc of Stryant Construction, and they were really interested in the work of TCP and what we were doing to support artists with space,” said Abghari. When she and the Stryant Group took notice of a former George Adair School, now the Academy Lofts, they knew it would make an ideal site for their partnership.

The Academy Lofts provide housing for artists selected to join TCP’s Art-Force residency program five years later. The other wing of TCP’s outreach, the artists-in-studio program, provides working space at sites like the Goat Farm for artists such as local printmaker and teacher Chloe Alexander.

Alexander’s recent work in printmaking, created in her TCP-sponsored studio, will be showcased at the “Ascension” exhibition. “One of the things I really appreciate about the Creatives Project is the fact that we are encouraged to experiment, and we have the space to do it. And so knowing that it was going to be in that space, I knew I wanted to do some kind of installation,” said Alexander. 

She described her installation, a large-scale textile collage entitled “Catch and Release.” “It pictures both of my children in this outdoor scene, catching cabbage moths, and it’s meant to reference a quintessential Southern outdoor scene. There’s lots of motifs that people recognize, like birds and the moths, of course, and then pine trees and elephant ears,” she said. “They’re accompanied by some lightboxes with motifs of birds and moths that are suspended around that textile piece.”

Also featured at the exhibition are local artists such as mixed-media painter Eugene Byrd, photographer and filmmaker Artemus Jenkins and photographer Rose M. Barron. All manner of media will be on display; painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography and more.

Ten years after her idea for the Creatives Project, the “Ascension” exhibition is a landmark for Abghari. She attested to “a combination of pinching myself and also relief … It truly has been such a journey, and we are all very, very proud.”

More on the activities and opportunities of the Creatives Project can be found at www.thecreativesproject.org, along with information on the exhibition “Ascension” for #artofcommunity at the Academy Lofts, on view through March 13.  There will also be two artist talks — Saturday, Feb. 26, and Saturday, March 5.