Valdosta Daily Times

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June 15, 2014

Art creates a community canvas

VALDOSTA — When art meets the history of Valdosta, the results can only be amazing.

The second of four public sessions for the community art piece titled “River of Life in the Azalea City” was held Saturday. Hosted by the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts and the area Public Art Advisory Committee, more than 40 residents, including organizations and clubs, have participated in the project so far.

The project began after the arts center received a $10,000 grant from National Endowment for the Arts. The center had to find matching funds, which they found via the Price-Campbell Foundation. Marty Haythorn of Thomasville became the project’s artist-in-residence.

The piece is being made using tiles, pieces of

broken plates, ceramics and created iconography. Finished, it will tell the tale of Valdosta. Every participant has a chance to tell a piece of the story which begins as far back as the beginning of Earth.

“The piece begins at the beginning stages of Earth and goes through the early life of the world. It will go through dinosaurs, Native Americans, the early Spanish, all the way to the present,” said Haythorn.

Haythorn hopes this piece will be meaningful to Lowndes County residents. He also hopes it will help educate children about the area and get people interested in seeing how the arts contribute to community life.

“We hope this project will let the community see how important art is. Art is becoming less prevalent in schools and its importance isn’t being stressed. When art is lost, civilization is lost. This will be part of the evolution of Valdosta. We want people to realize the relevance of art,” explained Gail Hobgood, vice president of the Turner Center for the Arts.

Once the project is completed, it will be 14-1/2-feet-long by 3-1/2- to 4-feet-high installation of four connected panels. The hopes of those involved is that the piece will be displayed in Downtown Valdosta or another public place in town.

The piece is expected to be completed by mid July, and the community still has two chances to participate. Two more public sessions are scheduled for 6-8 p.m., June 17 and June 19, Hudson Building Ceramic Studio located across the street from the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts. More information: Call (229) 247-2787.

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