Suzanah Furtick came to Jackson with her husband two years ago, after his job relocation, and she brought with her the hope and intention of developing the art community in the city. As a quilter, and former instructor at Memphis College of Art, Suzanah knows the sweet familiarity of fellowship that art can bring. Disheartened by the seeming lack of art company, she began the CO.STARTERS program in the beginning of May to learn more about the business side of being an artist, and also learn how to create a center or group for local Jackson artists. Along the way, she met like-minded artists, and by the end of August, she had put together a meetup at theCO called “Art Collective.” The first meeting had over 30 attendees, further proving there are artists in Jackson also seeking community. And Suzanah had delivered.
There are art collectives all over the world, where artists of all kinds collaborate and work toward common goals. Often times, art collectives will work on group projects, show in galleries, and sometimes even start movements.
“Art history has been a big part of what I do,” Suzanah states. “I’ve found in art history that a lot of famous artists, like Jean Michel Basquiat, have been a part of art collectives, and changed the world with what they do.”
Jackson is a small corner of the world, but it has so much potential for art to be created and showcased, and there are numbers of people who wish to see this happen. But first, relationships have to be built, and work has to be done to see change happen.
Suzanah says, “The Art Collective is a group of artists who want to build a community together, and support each other in the work that they are doing individually. Gathering our resources, time, and creating relationships make something greater than all of us as individuals out in the Jackson community.”
Jackson struggles to keep up with places like Memphis and Nashville where the art scene is already booming, and often loses artists to the draw of bigger cities. And while there are many talented artists in Jackson, they are working individually. There is something to be said about having strength in numbers, and the Art Collective offers itself as a place and resource for community to be built and for action to take place.
“My friend Melissa, an artist in Kentucky, said the most important thing for you to do to establish yourself as an artist is to build a network, and to get active in a community,” Suzanah said.
Although the art scene in Jackson needs a little TLC, Suzanah says that Jackson is not alone in starting from ground zero and building its way up. Originally from Montgomery, Alabama, Suzanah says her city was dangerous in some parts, lacked any real art culture, and the downtown have much going for it. Now, she says the city is flourishing, and there are constantly art crawls, murals being painted, and there is a prominent art culture and community. While this type of transformation doesn’t happen overnight, the Art Collective is a big step in the right direction.
theCO has hosted the Art Collective meetup several times, and Suzanah says it was theCO that gave her the inspiration and confidence to start the collective.
“theCO was the first place where I felt truly welcome in Jackson, and everyone was inviting me to come be a part of something,” she says. “Now, I’m defining myself as an artist, and kind of starting life over again, and the community at theCO, the makerspace, and CO.STARTERS, enabled me to meet like-minded people, who want the same thing for art in Jackson that I do.”
The future of Art Collective is bright, and artists are always welcome to bring ideas and projects.
Suzanah says, “I want it to be a place where you can plug in. You’ll get something out of it, but you can also give something to it, and to other people in it.”