At the Crossroads of Art, Activism, and Innovation with Anne Archer Dennington and Charmaine Minniefield

Why is Atlanta the innovation capital of the Southeast?  The podcast series Might Could: Stories of Innovation in the ATL, from The Hatchery, Emory Center for Innovation, seeks to answer that question in conversation with innovation thought leaders and disruptors in non-profits, higher education, and industry who are making Atlanta a city of the future.  On Friday, October 22, The Hatchery had the pleasure of speaking with special guests Anne Archer Dennington and Charmaine Minniefield.

Anne Archer Dennington is Executive Director of Flux Projects, which commissions public art that invites audiences in Atlanta to explore the city’s sites and stories as a means to imagining its future possibilities, while seamlessly disrupting in small ways that slowly shift the city’s perspective, planting seeds for creativity, and opening minds to new ideas. Dennington started her career at The Lowe Gallery, where she gained a keen understanding of the impact of art in society. In 2004 she became the first full-time executive director of the nonprofit Atlanta Celebrates Photography, where she was able to apply the business acumen she had gained from years at a gallery to running a non-profit arts organization.  In her current role at Flux Projects, she has proven adept at bringing artists’ visions to reality and connecting artists to each other and the city. 

As a visual artist, artist activist, arts administrator, and arts faculty member, Charmaine Minniefield has sought to preserve Black narratives by creating public art in communities affected by gentrification and erasure. With a degree in Fine Art from Agnes Scott College, Minniefield has served the Atlanta area as an arts administrator for nearly 20 years, holding positions with the National Black Arts Festival, the High Museum of Art, and the Fulton County Department of Art and Culture, and producing projects around art and activism with such organizations as Alternate ROOTS, Points of Light, and Flux Projects. Minniefield recently served as the Stuart A. Rose Library artist-in-residence at Emory University, and through a collaboration with Flux Projects presented her work Remembrance as Resistance: Preserving Black Narratives in Atlanta’s historically segregated cemetery to honor the over 800 unmarked graves that were discovered in their African American Burial Grounds. Her Praise House Project recently received the prestigious National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant, in partnership with Emory, to present her site-specific installations in three different locations in the metro Atlanta area to celebrate the African American history of those communities.

At the forefront of the conversation were places and people, as well as the stories they hold. Minniefield recounted how the narratives of her ancestors inspired Remembrance as Resistance. Dennington touched on the importance of inviting the public to participate in their projects. She said that art can break down barriers so that audiences can hear stories they might not otherwise engage with, especially here in the south, where remembering the past can be complicated, but also rich and rewarding.

Minniefield also encouraged investing in Atlanta innovators, especially in the city’s artists. She said that releasing artists to tell their story brings returns in community development and sustainability. As an artist, she is most interested in freedom—moving forward social and economic justice in the city, and curbing erasure of people and communities.

Both guests discussed how arts are the most welcoming community, and ultimately the community that defines Atlanta and drives it towards a better future more cognizant of its past. We can all find our place in, and through, the arts.

You can listen to the podcast here. If you prefer to watch the conversation, you can do so here. To keep up with everything going on at The Hatchery, be sure to subscribe to their newsletter.   

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