Coweta is home to a number of talented artists. The Coweta art community is constantly flourishing. In order to further cultivate the arts in Newnan, an artist residence program was formed.
The program houses its artists in the charming Gray Cottage. The little house is nestled in a quiet area next door to the McRitchie-Hollis Museum.
It’s close enough to downtown that the artist in residence can easily walk or ride a bike downtown, but also have a tranquil area to inspire creativity. This spring, The Artist Rez program was fortunate enough to secure Phoenix artist Christine Cassano.
She was kind enough to invite us to Gray Cottage to take a look at her current works in progress and learn more about her process. As soon as we walked into the cottage, our eyes were met with the results of art she has been immersed in while staying in Newnan.
The floor was covered with what at first glance appeared to be the fossilized remains of some long gone sea creature, but upon closer inspection were delicately constructed porcelain pieces stamped with a motherboard.
Christine is a small woman with masses of thick, wavy brown hair. She spoke of her art with an enthusiasm that left us in no doubt of the passion she feels for her chosen profession.
She began her artistic career as a two dimensional artist. Eventually, her work evolved beyond the canvas and she found she could express herself better with a three dimensional format.
Her art is not confined by conventional mediums. She works with a variety of unusual materials.
In addition to incorporating found objects into her pieces, she also uses metal, clay, concrete and even her own hair.
Much of her recent art looks as if it was excavated from an archeological site or found growing in the wild. When you look closer however, you will find elements of technology embedded in the piece.
This reflects her keen interest in biology as it relates to technology. Everything she puts into her art emphasizes this connection.
She showed us a beautiful study of a very organic looking porcelain piece that was stamped with a motherboard. There were holes pierced through each point of electrical connection. Through this she weaves sutures made from her own hair. This is her expression of how similar the cellular function of the body is to the programming of a computer.
A series of serious health problems forced Christine to closely examine human biology and the way in which it interacts with modern technology. She takes these deeply personal issues and through her art, applies them to the whole of human history and evolution. The results are beautifully provocative and relatable pieces.
Christine is enjoying her stay in Newnan. Her removal from the blanching desert environment of Arizona to the lush foliage of Georgia has shifted her focus. She also loves the challenges that come with being removed from her studio. Being in an environment with limited materials has pushed her out of her comfort zone, inspiring new thoughts and ideas.
While she is here, she has been working on an installation piece for the university’s permanent display. The piece incorporates rolled porcelain stamped with a motherboard and medical vials filled with Newnan memorabilia. The university also purchased an additional piece that will go in their permanent collection as well.
This is Christine’s very first artist residency and she has been impressed with the kind welcoming hospitality that she has received from the residents of Newnan, the Artist Rez members and The University of West Georgia faculty and staff.