Creating Community explores Atlanta’s connection with art

     When students have the opportunity to take a step back and observe the communities around them, they gain invaluable insight about their environment. Westminster’s Creating Community provides that opportunity to its students. In its ninth year, Creating Community has been exposing students to visual and performing arts in and around Atlanta. Creating Community is led by Westminster teachers Benjamin Steele, Daniel Searl, and Sabrina Johnson.

     “Creating Community is a group of students interested in how art and urban spaces can create a sense of community around individuals,” said senior Woods Curry. “The group travels all over the city to learn about exciting new projects from artists as well as to make our own art to display at certain events.”

     In conjunction with observing art at Westminster, Creating Community travels around Atlanta to different art festivals. On Sept. 21, the club participated in the Atlanta Lantern Parade on the BeltLine near Piedmont Park. The parade was created by Atlanta resident Chantelle Rytter and the community-based organization Krewe of the Grateful Gluttons. Each year, 70,000 participants carry handmade lanterns and walk in a parade along the Beltline. Bands play loud, energetic music during the parade, and thousands of spectators dance and take photos. During their meetings, Creating Community members work together and craft colorful, creative lanterns that they take with them to join in the parade. 

     “A few months ago, we went to the BeltLine Lantern Parade and Hammond House Museum as in-town trips,” said Steele, who is an Upper School visual art teacher. “At the lantern parade, we walked along the BeltLine for hours carrying our lanterns and taking pictures. It was a great experience for the students and the faculty, getting to share their art and look at thousands of other peoples’ interpretations and creations of lanterns was an amazing opportunity.”

     Creating Community also tours art centers on overnight trips. Last year, the club explored the Chicago art community and gained an in depth understanding of how artistic style can differ from area to area. Two years ago, the club traveled to Toronto to visit Le Nuit Blanche, a famous all-night show that displays local pieces of art, as well as those from international artists. The show contains work of many different mediums, including graffiti, sculptures, photography, and paintings.

     “Every year, we have an overnight travel trip to a city that hosts some kind of art festival,” said Curry. “This year, we are going to Miami Beach on Dec. 5 to see Art Basel, which is a massive annual art show for gallerists worldwide.”

     At Art Basel, leading galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia combine art from critically acclaimed modern and contemporary artists, as well as the new generation of emerging artists. Paintings, sculptures, photographs, films, and editioned works will be on display when Creating Community travels to Florida.

     Since the club has such great opportunities like trips out of state, the club is a selective group and not everyone can be a part. Faculty advisors select members from a pool of Westminster junior and senior applicants.

     “The application involves writing up responses to a Google form,” said Searl. “One of our most important questions that us advisors ask is ‘What type of creator are you?’ It’s important that applicants have an interest in creating and observing art, as that’s what the core of the club is. Students with past or current experiences in art classes or are merely interested in pursuing and learning about art and your community are encouraged to apply at the end of each school year.”

     Although only seniors and juniors students are allowed to be club members, freshmen and sophomores are invited to examine art in their communities to simulate the club and consider applying.

     “I heard about Creating Community on the announcements as a freshman, and even though I couldn’t apply to be a member as a sophomore, I started to pick up on art in and around my neighborhood, be it murals or even graffiti,” said sophomore Marzuq Uddin. “I’m excited to apply next fall as a junior, and I hope to learn more about art and its connection to my community.”

     Through local trips around Atlanta to flights across the country, Creating Community offers many students the chance to explore art and connect it to their communities around them.