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Let’s Dance!

13 Mar

Compiled by Bernie Petit
Communications Manager 

Now in its eighth year, the Charlotte Dance Festival presents two days of performances and classes with local and national professional dance companies and choreographers Friday and Saturday, March 14-15, for CLT Dance Weekend.

Dance Charlotte performances will run both nights of the festival at 8 p.m. at the Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, 130 N. Tryon St., Charlotte. Performances will feature a juried selection of performers and the CDF Repertory Ensemble in a new work by New York-based contemporary hip-hop choreographer Jennifer Archibald. Tickets are $7-$20.

Jennifer Archibald HSA variety of Master Classes for dancers of all ages and levels, including several for local professionals, will take place Saturday at Spirit Square, 345 N. Tryon St., Charlotte. Class offerings range from jazz and ballet to contemporary and Afro-fusion. Classes are $10-$15 per class.

At 5 p.m. Saturday, Charlotte Emerging Dance Awards (CEDA) will bring together area youth dance programs at Booth Playhouse to perform and experience a professional festival atmosphere.

For more information, visit or email


Bodiography Contemporary Ballet / Maria Caruso

Dance Charlotte! Performers
Bodiography Contemporary Ballet / Maria Caruso (Pittsburgh, Pa.)

d a n a h b e l l a DanceWorks (Pulaski, Va.)

THE MARK/Arlynn Zachary (Charlotte)

Linda Thompson (Charlotte) – 48 Hour Project Winner

Warped Dance Co. (Sheboygan, Wis.)

CDF Rep Ensemble / Jennifer Archibald (Charlotte/New York)

4thright dance company (Charlotte)



CDF Repertory Ensemble Dancers

Audrey Baran, Caroline Calouche, Amanda Floyd, Val Ifill, Alex Lieberman, Elizabeth Sanford, Mackenzie Smith, Ashlea Sovetts and Britney Stevenson

Her job? Igniting wonder in the world around us

6 Mar

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager 

Megan York has the greatest job in the world.

Or at least she likes to think so.

Megan L1006769As an informal educator at Discovery Place, “I get to dress up in costume and blow stuff up,” she said. “I mean, really? I won the job lottery. Not everybody would like it, but it’s exactly perfect for me.”

Her job combines her two passions – science and theater. York attended the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics her last two years of high school before earning a degree in physics at Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia and teaching middle school science for six years in Cabarrus County.

She’s been involved in theater since she was 13 years old, recently appearing in the Citizens of the Universe local production of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

“I’ve just always been this way,” York said. “My report card from second grade would say things like ‘Megan loves reading aloud. She loves doing character voices for the kids and she loves our science lessons.’”

She’s still doing the same things, only now it’s not part of her permanent record. To accompany the “101 Inventions That Changed the World” exhibit at Discovery Place, York created the steampunk character Necessity, i.e. “the mother of invention,” as a way to interact with guests and enhance the exhibit experience.

As Necessity, York gets guests at the science center talking about deep-thinking questions, like “Is all change good?” and “Why are there no women on the list?” – the latter being a reason she created her character.

“Technically, there is no inventor of duct tape,” York said, “but the person you can most credit it to is a woman named Vesta Stoudt.”

Stoudt developed a method that allowed for tape to be torn rather than cut.

“So she’s not considered the inventor of duct tape,” she said, before whispering, “but we all know she is.”

One of the cultural sector contributors featured in 2014 Arts & Science Council Annual Fund Drive campaign materials, York joined Discovery Place fulltime in September 2013 after working in its summer camp program for two years. Discovery Place is one of more than 20 cultural organizations in Mecklenburg County that receives unrestricted operating support through ASC.

Discovery Place, she said, exists to ignite wonder. And being a part of that is the most important thing that she can do in the world.

“I want to surprise people and amaze people and the way that works for me – it’s the same motivation a magician would have or a singer would have,” she said. “I want to evoke in other people these feelings of awe and wonder and interest and fascination and joy because to me all those things are very joyful and I think that those are very important emotions for people to have.”

ASC is You & Me using science to help kids and adults better connect to the massive curiosity of the world we’re all born with.


Saturdays are for dancing

4 Mar

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager 

Like most of us, Fraxedy Gomez looks forward to the weekend.

But not because she gets to sleep in.

Fraxedy Gomez.

Fraxedy Gomez.

Her Saturdays are spent in the dance studio, learning folkloric Latin dance – along with cultural and historic-related content – as a member of the Carolinas Latin Dance Company, supported in part by a $2,500 Arts & Science Council (ASC) Cultural & Community Investment Grant

“Dance has been pretty much my life since I was little,” said Gomez, who has danced with the company since she was 7 years old. “On Mondays I would go to school and I would be excited for dance and would tell myself ‘I’m going to dance on Saturday.’

“‘After Saturday practice, I would be like, ‘aww, I’m done with dance – go to school again and come back.’”

This year, she’s also teaching beginning dancers that are about the same age she was when she started 11 years ago.

“It’s been a new experience because usually I’m the one that’s getting taught,” said Gomez, an 18-year-old senior at Butler High School. “I like seeing how little girls are interested in dancing and hopefully they can do it for as long as I have.”

One of the cultural sector contributors featured in 2014 ASC Annual Fund Drive campaign materials, Gomez said she loves to dance the salsa.

“You get to put your own flair to it – more emotion, more style,” she said. “Salsa is just something you can express yourself in.”

She especially likes performing on stage and making people aware of the Latin American culture found in Charlotte (both of her parents are from Nicaragua). She also appreciates the structure dance provides her.

“It puts you in the right mindset for school and activities and it opens up more opportunities,” she said. “It keeps you busy instead of going off doing other things and not being responsible. It teaches you how to be responsible.”

ASC is You & Me giving everyone in our community something to cultural to do on the weekend – and every day of the week.


A world of possibilities easy to see behind a camera

3 Mar

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager 

Dustyn Brigham never touched a camera until he arrived at Studio 345 – not in any meaningful way, at least.

Dustyn Brigham.

Dustyn Brigham.

But, as one of the dozens of students that enrolled in the Arts & Science Council (ASC) program’s inaugural trimester in the fall of 2012, Brigham’s world was opened by his experiences behind the camera.

“It’s given me a chance to explore different things,” he said. “Without that freedom to explore, I wouldn’t be able to understand certain things about myself and so this is really helping me find my path.”

Inspired by the nonprofit Manchester Bidwell Corporation in Pittsburgh, Studio 345 uses digital photography and multimedia arts to educate and inspire students to stay in school, graduate, and pursue goals beyond high school. The program is open to all high school students in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and participants are taught and mentored by professional working artists.

A program fixture since the beginning, Brigham, a 17-year-old junior at Independence High School, naturally gravitated towards filmmaking.

“I felt like film would take me places,” he said. “There are lots of interesting people out there and I thought that I would meet them through film and I have.”

Like the girl and guy he thought were interesting looking from a distance in uptown Charlotte. He approached them with his camera and learned they were passing through town on a cross-country tour.

If he spots you, be ready to answer his favorite question to ask folks on camera: What are the three most valuable lessons you’ve learned throughout your life?

“One guy told me, ‘Say yes as much as possible, say no only when necessary and to just love, love unconditionally,’” Brigham said. “I just meet interesting people that have done the things I want to do one day.”

One of the featured cultural contributors in 2014 ASC Annual Fund Drive campaign materials, Brigham isn’t sure what career path he wants to travel when he is older.

But he knows what he is learning about film and about life at Studio 345 will help get him to where he needs to be.

“It’s like an avenue I took that will open up so many other avenues,” he said. “I just want to experience a lot of different things and I feel like film has given me and will continue to give me that opportunity.”

ASC is You & Me providing students with the freedom to find their way through the arts.


A Living Canvas – Introducing Mark Stephenson

28 Feb

By Amy Bareham
Cultural & Community Investment Intern

Art is remarkably accommodating.

Somewhere along the way, we decided we could only approach her wearing the hat of artist, historian, scholar, elitist – but she waits for us regardless of our background, beckoning us to please, come as we are.

Perhaps that’s why many of our Community Supported Art participants are so candid about their own complex art journeys. Mark Stephenson is one such participant. Currently residing in Salisbury, Stephenson admits painting was never actually the plan.

With degrees in engineering and music from Pfeiffer University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, he originally wanted to pursue a career as an opera singer. After relocating to New York City in the 90’s he discovered the Art Students League. Shortly thereafter Stephenson’s career as a painter took off.

“Johna Edmonds, Miss North Carolina 2013” by Mark Stephenson.

“Johna Edmonds, Miss North Carolina 2013” by Mark Stephenson.

“I’ve been drawing since I could pick up something to draw with…that’s an ubiquitous explanation, but it’s true,” said Stephenson, who dedicates most of his time to portrait painting because he finds people and their mannerisms interesting. It is engaging, he explained, to see someone in repose and feel a sudden urge to capture that.

Surprisingly, when sitting for a portrait it isn’t all stiff smiles and a neck ache. Stephenson prefers it when a subject allows his or her character to shine through. Then, a vivacious composition emerges.

“Our mind is a movie camera, we mold all these images into one visual sensation – if you’re capturing that with paint, they’re living and moving and breathing,” he said. “You’re creating a living thing on canvas…if you get the essence of what’s there, you capture life.”

Simply put, a portrait is not a photograph.

We’re accustomed to seeing the world through photos, but a painting is a work in and of itself, and an artist looking at the totality of a subject will focus more on depicting spirit than anatomy. This might seem dicey, but Stephenson believes “a good painting has an element of risk to it.”

In conjunction with portraits, Stephenson enjoys landscape painting. His proposal for the CSA project was a series

“Sand path Early morning” by Mark Stephenson.

“Sand path Early morning” by Mark Stephenson.

of rural images painted on recycled materials. He will complete 50 12-x-12 landscapes on wood from an old barn, part of a North Carolina property believed to originate from around 1850.

While it isn’t exactly easy to sketch on wood, the roughness lends the pieces distinct character. As an artist Stephenson said he is still branching out, but he’s excited about the dynamism of Charlotte.

“You’ve gotta have a thriving arts community,” he said. “It’s a barometer of the health of a region, an area. Diversity is a great thing in every way, otherwise we stagnate.”

To see Stephenson’s gallery, click here.

Molding Charlotte’s Art Scene

28 Feb

By Amy Bareham
Cultural & Community Investment Intern

To those of you who chose the math or science track and feel condemned to an un-artsy existence, find hope in Amy Sanders, a potter selected for the Arts & Science Council’s Community Supported Art program.

Originally at school for biology, Sanders took a ceramics class during her sophomore year and caught the art bug. She went on to receive a BA in art and a certification in secondary education.

After serving as an AmeriCorps volunteer for two years with Habitat for Humanity, Sanders and her husband settled. A lack of studio space meant that she took a brief hiatus from pottery, sewing for a while instead. When she returned to the ceramics scene, Sanders was trading labor for space at Clayworks. Teaching lessons provided access to art.

These mugs bear Amy Sanders’ individual appliques.

These mugs bear Amy Sanders’ individual appliques.

“The chunk of time that I was sewing for my creative outlet started breathing life into my ceramics,” Sanders said. Essentially, texture, trim and color from the sewing days imprint themselves in her clay pieces and give depth to each surface.

Sanders makes these pieces in a studio she and her husband constructed in the backyard, a place where she can experiment with pattern and shape. Because Sanders has two young boys, she works primarily at night to remain active in the clay field, although she still continues to teach.

“I love…inspiring other people…keeping my feet wet in the art community without having to produce a lot of work,” she said.

How does a potter with kids on the run protect her creative time?

By combining efficiency and talent and using hand-made stamps in the design process. Sanders does this using small pieces of bisque fired clay (the kind of firing that makes the clay hard, pre-glaze). Using stamps “gives me a visual vocabulary,” she said. “I’m getting texture that is personal and does have meaning.”

Furthermore, the space between the designs “becomes really interesting as well.” Stamps alleviate the pressure of Sanders having to draw a pattern, but still provide a sense of intricacy.

Right now, Sanders is playing with molds, trying to mark both the inside and the outside of pieces.

“I’m a more is more gal,” she explained, adding that she ultimately wants buyers to discover more on the item after their initial first-glance.

For the CSA program, she is delivering 50 serving bowls. These are the perfect size for individual use (read: one

Amy Sanders has found her niche combining functionality with art as seen here.

Amy Sanders has found her niche combining functionality with art as seen here.

incredibly hearty bowl of soup), or can be used as side dishes. They’re dishwasher safe and will feature appliques that Sanders stamps into thin clay and then attaches.

Said Sanders: “I love the idea of having something beautiful that’s also functional…things from your life bleed into your art so often.”

Clay is a friendly medium anyway, but bowls make art even more approachable because everybody eats therefore everybody needs something from which to eat. CSA shareholders dig out your cook books and prepare for your little piece of Amy Sanders – coming soon!

Click here to view more of Amy’s work.

Library Acts of Culture bring surprise performances to local patrons

28 Feb

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager 

A Sign of the Times of the Carolinas musician and band leader Tyrone Jefferson leads  the group's jazz ensemble in a Library Acts of Culture performance at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library West Boulevard branch.

A Sign of the Times of the Carolinas musician and band leader Tyrone Jefferson leads the group’s jazz ensemble in a Library Acts of Culture performance at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library West Boulevard branch.

People throughout Mecklenburg County are leaving their local libraries with more than just the books they’re checking out.

They’re leaving having been surprised by an unexpected cultural experience.

The Arts & Science Council (ASC), Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation are partnering to bring unannounced cultural performances to every county library branch through Library Acts of Culture.

Singers from Opera Carolina and dancers from Martha Connerton/Kinetic Works Dance Company performed together during a Library Acts of Culture visit to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Scaleybark branch, where delighted patrons broke out their smartphones to record the performance.

Singers from Opera Carolina and dancers from Martha Connerton/Kinetic Works Dance Company performed together during a Library Acts of Culture visit to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Scaleybark branch, where delighted patrons broke out their smartphones to record the performance.

So far, 12 Charlotte Mecklenburg Library branches have received a Library Acts of Culture visit; all 20 branches will have received a surprise performance by the end of March.

“The library now in 2014 is more than just books and computers,” said Charlotte Mecklenburg Library representative David Sniffin. “We do so much more serving patrons in all kinds of capacities and this is just another way we can expose them to the culture available at the library and the library’s partners.”

Over the past two weeks, surprised library patrons and staff have reached for their smartphones to record the pop-up performances, which have included the A Sign of the Times of the Carolinas jazz quartet, singers from Opera Carolina and performers from Martha Connerton/Kinetic Works Dance Company.

People broke out into dance at the West Boulevard branch, where the performance provided a special birthday treat for one visitor. A mesmerized toddler walked straight up to the flautist at the Mountain Island branch at the onset of the jazz quartet’s performance, enjoying a performance she thought was meant just for her.

A senior at the Davidson branch was moved to tears by Xela Pinkerton’s and Martin Schreiner’s operatic performance of “O mio babbino caro” (“Oh My Beloved Father”) from Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi” and “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici” (“Let’s drink from the joyful cup”) from Verdi’s “La traviata” (“The Fallen Woman”).

“It’s always interesting to see the variety of ways in which people respond to the performances,” said Ryan Deal,

Ryan Deal, ASC associate vice president of cultural & community investment.

Ryan Deal, ASC associate vice president of cultural & community investment.

ASC associate vice president of cultural & community investment. “What makes it all worth it is when you find those positive responses of people that willingly drop what they’re doing to engage in the performance, grin from ear to ear, even tear up, and then seek us out after the performance is over to thank us for what we’re doing for the community.”

Library Acts of Culture bring performances from traditional venues to libraries across Charlotte-Mecklenburg, providing access to the arts in unexpected ways. They delight adults, but they also expose kids to the power of the arts, A Sign of the Times jazz vocalist Toni Tupponce told Fox 46 Carolinas.

“It’s important to me as a singer and as a performer because the earlier you can start children in seeing their dreams to perhaps perform or to be involved in the arts and see opportunities in that, it just widens their world,” Tupponce said. “And just seeing their eyes light up, it’s fantastic.”

Singers from Opera Carolina and dancers from Martha Connerton/Kinetic Works Dance Company performed together during a Library Acts of Culture visit to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library ImaginOn location.

Singers from Opera Carolina and dancers from Martha Connerton/Kinetic Works Dance Company performed together during a Library Acts of Culture visit to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library ImaginOn location.

ASC Cultural Project Grant helps Taproot Ensemble dig deep, get dirty

28 Feb

By Bernie Petit
Communications Manager

Taproot Ensemble members Camerin Watson and Alexander Lieberman perform.

Taproot Ensemble members Camerin Watson and Alexander Lieberman perform. Photo by Kevin Beaty.

They’re not the flowers of the Charlotte arts scene.

But the work Taproot Ensemble members produce is necessary – and just as beautiful in its own way.

Brianna Smith.

Brianna Smith.

“We’re the thing that’s trying to dig deep into what’s happening in this community,” said founding artistic director Brianna Smith. “We’re the thing that’s trying to bring what is life-giving to the surface so that it can feed people and it can sustain us and it can build community.

“You don’t sustain life by eating sugar all the time – and sugar is a wonderful thing that we all love – but you also have to have your vegetables.”

And, culturally speaking, Taproot wants us to eat our vegetables.

To the ensemble, that means creating original, cross-disciplinary work that tackles social justice and social issues, such as its latest piece, “Ophelos.” The devised performance piece, based on the Scandinavian folk tale that formed the basis of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” revolves around a young man who must deal candidly with the broken household and violent nation in which he lives when confronted with the murder of his father. The young woman who loves him challenges the cycle of violence that threatens to draw him in.

“The idea that if you have a young man raised in a household where his first response to tragedy is violence, how do you equip that young man with the tools necessary to break that cycle?” Smith said. “It doesn’t have to be heavy-handed to explore that issue and it doesn’t have to be poor performance quality to explore that issue. We think it can be something that is aesthetically pleasing and something that is engaging and interesting and community-oriented and also that has something real to say in every moment.”

The artists collective – Smith, Camerin Watson and Alexander Lieberman – received a $5,000 Cultural Project

Taproot Ensemble's Camerin Watson.

Taproot Ensemble’s Camerin Watson.

Grant from the Arts & Science Council to tour the work throughout northern Mecklenburg County after community-based collaboration during final phase of development.

In March, Taproot will present selections from the show at community feedback sessions to hear from the public what’s working and what’s not before full-length productions in April.

Such feedback is critical, Smith said, because it lets the collective know if its message is being received by the audience. It also makes audience members who aren’t intimately involved in the arts feel as though they have a place in the cultural community outside of just being someone who purchases a ticket.

“Everyone has an artistic mind, everyone has something to bring to the table” Smith said. “It’s one of the reasons one of our focuses is bringing in people who are not theatergoers and getting them an opportunity to not only enjoy the show but to be vested in it in a way that they may not feel in other situations.”

Feedback from past audiences at Pecha Kucha Night Charlotte, the Atlanta Fringe Festival, Upstage in NoDa and the Greensboro Fringe Festival allowed Taproot to develop the piece to this point.

Upcoming community sessions will help the ensemble prepare for its April productions of “Ophelos.” Throughout the process, Taproot wants to get people talking about the idea of turning towards forgiveness and away from vengeance.

“We live in a culture that, by and large, wants to say, ‘They did it to us, we’re going to do it back to them.’ It’s vengeance and reciprocity in the worst way,” Smith said.

“There is a potential for something more fulfilling and something more beautiful, something more satisfying through forgiveness, and that is not an easy process but it is an essential process.”

It’s a beautiful thought, one worthy of a cultural flower.

If only that were Taproot’s function.

“Our main focus is creating something that challenges and digs deep, gets dirty,” Smith said. “Digs deep, gets dirty into the world around us and brings up things that need to be brought up.”

It’s why Taproot isn’t the flower of our arts community, because it’s what’s needed to help those flowers bloom.

Want to Go? Want to Share Your Opinion First?

Taproot Ensemble will present “Ophelos,” about a young man challenged by the woman who loves him to break the cycle of violence threatening to draw him in after the murder of his father, at 8 p.m. April 5-6 at Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church, 9704 Mallard Creek Road, Charlotte; at 8 p.m. April 10 and 13 and 9 p.m. April 11 at Studio Kadi Fit, 19725 Oak Street, Cornelius; and at 8 p.m. April 25-27 at UpStage, 3306 N. Davidson Street, Charlotte.

In March, Taproot Ensemble will present selections from the show at community collaboration sessions to receive public feedback about the piece. Sessions include a March 22 showing at the Incubator series at Packard Place, 222 S. Church Street, Charlotte; a March 29 workshop at Grand Central Academy of Performing Arts, 19826 N. Cove Road, Cornelius; and another March 29 showing at Bella Love Live at the historic Oak Street Mill in downtown Cornelius.

For more information about Taproot Ensemble, visit its website,

Standing proud – a Charlotte sculptor on the up and up

28 Feb

By Amy Bareham
Cultural & Community Investment Intern

How many times have you passed the public art piece on South Tryon, or fumbled through an explanation of it to a non-local?

“I know it’s called the Firebird, but I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean.”

We learn how to process oil paintings on museum walls, but when it comes to sculpture, we sometimes struggle to know just what our response should be. Cognizing sculptures in our daily spheres can be confusing, but as Community Supported Art participant Jonathan Pellitteri says, being confused is okay.

Jonathan Pellitteri 1

“Descent” by Jonathan Pellitteri.

Jonathan became exposed to art in college and everything changed. He switched his major from industrial design to fine art, a move also influenced by his dad, who was an architect. Throughout school, Pellitteri did carpentry and masonry to make money, which translates into his sculpting through the materials and processes he utilizes. Prior to obtaining his master’s degree from LSU, Pellitteri worked as an artist in residency at North Dakota State University and at a Swiss museum.

Although the artist’s family has only been in Charlotte since 2012, he is encouraged by the public art climate, observing that, “Public art [is] part of the way we develop new areas…Charlotte has been embracing that for some time.”

At first, Pellitteri’s pieces were inspired by a technology saturated world. His thesis, entitled Build a Better Mousetrap, featured sculptures constructed with timeless materials. Hints of the digital era were involved as a commentary on how technology entraps us.

Now, his outlook on social media has evolved.

“I think there are a lot of possibilities as far as using it in an installation,” he said. “I don’t know how to make it a part of my work…but I wouldn’t rule it out yet.”

Currently, Pellitteri is operating as a full-time studio artist. When asked if he feels his artwork requires extra explanation because sculpture is his chosen medium, he answered, “Yes and no. In a sense…[it] creates a narrative. It allows people to project themselves inside of it. People typically don’t say what’s that, I don’t get it, because there’s something recognizable in the work.”

Simply put, we don’t need to shy away from sculpture; it’s actually comprised of the familiar.

“Nature’s Course” by Jonathan Pellitteri.

“Nature’s Course” by Jonathan Pellitteri.

For instance, Pellitteri’s CSA project consists of a Catawba River recreation made of landscaping materials and homasote, a papier-mâché like substance made from recycled paper.

“Essentially what I’ll do is carve the channel of the river into blocks of homasote and then divide it into fifty individual pieces,” he said. “So each person will have an individual part of the river.”

That individual part will contain crushed up bricks to mimic the red of Carolina clay, and based on some estimation, Pellitteri believes the bricks he’s using were made regionally.

So next time you see the Firebird, or any Charlotte sculptural installation, stay awhile and find the intersection between its story and yours.

Click here to view Jonathan’s work.

Snapshotting Lauren Doran

24 Feb

By Amy Bareham
Cultural & Community Investment Intern

During Lauren Doran’s high school years, a 35mm camera walked into her life and she hasn’t been the same since.

The camera, a gift from her dad, awakened a love of photography that continues to shape the Community Supported Art (CSA) participant. Her handle of the lens developed in college photography classes where she became exposed to the idea of using photography as a platform for expressing ideas, something which ultimately led to her pursuing a minor in photography.

Lauren Doran 2

“Harvest” represents Lauren Doran’s skill at blending light, the everyday and the seraphic.

“To be a creative person,” she says, “you need to have mental space and time for yourself.”

It makes sense. Doran, who also does landscaping design, tries to get alone with her art at least once a week in order to merge her influences and create something new. Using a Nikon D-90, she captures the world and its idiosyncrasies – sometimes in color, other days in black and white.

More often than not, nature creeps into the shot, which allows her to explore the natural and emotional elements of people, as well as the spiritual element that ties them all together. Poetry deeply infuses Doran’s art, especially the writing of Federico Garcia Lorca and William Stafford.

“My photos are more individual poems than a narrative,” she said when asked if her work tells a story of its own. Like most of us, Doran finds inspiration everywhere, from seeing, reading and hearing things that are, in their purest form, “people creating beauty.”

In the future, Doran would like to revert to old processes and tackle film again, but for now she’s focused on her prints for the CSA shareholders. Doran is making five compositions that she’ll recreate 10 times each. These compositions are ethereal and earthy, and feature numerous native plants as a kind of homage to Carolina. Even the construction of the shots is cool – a little bit vintage and a little bit organic.

First, Doran will put up a white board and grab her “ancient” overhead projector. Arranging combinations of oakleaf

In “Orchid 15”, nature knows her striking complexity is best left front and center.

In “Orchid 15”, nature knows her striking complexity is best left front and center.

hydrangeas, pink muhly grass and sweet gum on the projector screen, she’ll then take a picture of what projects onto her board. This is a practice Doran discovered by accident and continues to use because, honestly, it’s pretty ingenious. A recent investment in a printer equates to more time spent playing around with lighting, paper textures and overall aesthetic, which means her final prints are rich with a poetic story all their own.

Despite being a mom with young kids and a volunteer at the Light Factory, Doran plans on pursuing art and maybe even traveling to somewhere like Japan, where she’ll have access to landscapes and the spirituality of humanity all in one.

Her advice to us average photographers?

“Shoot something that moves you – that speaks to you more than on a superficial level.”

I think that means Instagram selfies are off-limits.

Click here to see Doran’s website.


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