Valdosta Daily Times

May 7, 2014

Community Canvas

Artist prepares work that can make everyone an artist

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Through artist Marty Haythorn’s concept, Valdosta can re-tell its history through a multi-media project and everyone in Valdosta can help tell it.

Working through the area Public Art Advisory Committee and the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts, Haythorn has been commissioned as an artist in residence. A National Endowment of the Arts’ Arts Engagement in American Communities grant funds the effort, says Dr. Stephen Lahr, project coordinator and a retired Valdosta State University art professor.

Haythorn, a Thomasville artist, has created a mosaic time-travel design that explores the region’s past from the eras of small-celled organisms to dinosaurs to Native Americans to the current time.

“He has designed a ceramic mural that represents the flow of time through Valdosta beginning with the creation of the universe through our present time,” Lahr said.

The work will reveal these eras through iconography on a 14 1/2-foot-long by 3 1/2- to 4-foot-high installation of four connected panels that may be exhibited in Downtown Valdosta upon completion sometime this year.

Each Wednesday afternoon for the past few weeks and the coming weeks, Haythorn meets with youths from the Boys & Girls Club at the Hudson Ceramic Studio across the street from the arts center. In the coming weeks, Haythorn will supervise seminars and workshops for the public on various dates. These workshops will allow the public to participate in creating the artwork.

Haythorn says he would like to see a plaque containing each participant’s name installed along with the finished art.

With the hefty wooden backdrop readied, Boys & Girls Club youths prepare the mosaic pieces which will be a combination of tiles, broken plates and shaped clay pieces.

Chasidy Moore, a 12-year-old J.L. Newbern sixth-grader, and Tonoriya Stewart, a 12-year-old Valdosta Middle School sixth-grader, prepared various tiles as part of the Boys & Girls Club program last week.

Chasidy said she likes art but doesn’t consider herself a good artist in terms of drawing and painting. With this project, she sees the possibility of planning then putting in long hours as a way of executing creative works.

Tonoriya views the project as a gradual progression — one participants can visualize as it slowly develops each week.

“It gives you motivation,” she said.

Asha Caldwell, a 13-year-old Valdosta Middle School seventh-grader, and Anayansi Redding, a 14-year-old Valdosta Middle School eighth grader, place wads of clay into an extruder, a horizontal press. By pulling a lever, the device releases T-bar-shaped lengths of clay. The device works like a large, metal Play-doh form creator. These T-bar lengths will create the malleable border around the edges of the installation.

“I like developing community-art projects,” Haythorn said, “and getting everybody involved.”

More information: Call the arts center, (229) 247-2787.