The Farm’s Womb Artist Collective: bringing art back to the community

Patrons of the fifth artist showcase pose for a picture on October 30, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. -- Photo by Kendrick Sargent

[Disclosure: the author of this article is related to one of the founders of Farm’s Womb] 

Marietta, Ga. — Just as jazz was born out of the wild nightlife of New Orleans and the beat generation found a home in the gritty streets of New York City, members of the Cobb County art scene have now found a permanent headquarters.

Rebecca Cornwall is the creator and artist matriarch of the Cobb County-based artist collective “The Farm’s Womb.” Just outside of the Atlanta perimeter, in the city of Marietta, Cornwall sits in a sunlit corner of her living room surrounded by countless crochet installations and live moss submerged aqua art. In her hands, she holds a needlepoint loom covered with an explosion of colorful bulbous shapes just beginning to form into a creature somehow between a fungus and mammal.

Cornwall looks tired but contented, and something about that sentiment seems to spread into her surroundings and mix into the air along with the scent of freshly brewed coffee and flourishing succulents. Her calm demeanor is born from the sense of purpose that comes with using your talent and passion to give back to the community you love.

The Farm’s Womb is a collection of over 50 local artists whose chosen mediums include sculpture, paint, and even stitched installations. It is Cornwall’s dream to create spaces where local artists can showcase their work and inspire the community to express themselves artistically as well.

“‘The Farm’s Womb’ has always been my idea of what low budget creative workspaces should be,” Cornwall said. “For me personally, that was a place I had always dreamt of finding for myself growing up.”

Working with Homeless Youth

 Cornwall’s dreams do not stop at providing work space and showcase opportunities for local artists. She also teaches art creation as a coping mechanism to those in need through classes taught at The Covenant House. The Covenant House is an Atlanta based charity that provides shelter and resources to Atlanta’s homeless youth.

“As the founder of an artist collective, I get to witness the therapeutic qualities art has in the daily lives of a wide variety of ages,” Cornwall said.  “So, you’ll be sure to see us out around the community sharing art with those who can’t already create in their daily lives.”

All donations raised during these programs are used to fund the Covenant House classes.

Participants of the Paint Me Project use spray paint to get creative on the tarps used as pop up murals on July 16, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Dreux Doucette

“Over the past few years we introduced two of our main programs — the Paint Me Project, which focuses on providing free and legal large mural spots in our city, and the Community Sketchbook Project which focuses on providing a creative workspace for local artists while beefing up our sketchbook library,” Cornwall said.

Participant of the Paint me Project using spray paint to help create a pop up community mural on July 16, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. —
Photo by Dreux Doucette

People of all ages, colors and social statuses join forces during the Paint Me Project events to collaborate on large, spray painted murals spanning giant hanging tarps turned canvases. The end result is a piece of artwork that represents the coming together of a community.

Supporting Local Artists

There are seventeen registered arts colleges in California, compared to the two that are in the state of Georgia. Many of Cobb County’s local artists ultimately migrate to the art-friendly far-off lands of Los Angeles and New York. Cornwall hopes that by promoting local art and providing resources to local artists, she can help to retain some of the local talent.

“We’ve witnessed far too many amazing local spots close their doors due to lack of foot traffic and community involvement,” Cornwall said. “That’s what drives us to focus so strongly on highlighting underused spaces. We want the public to easily understand their options when it comes to event rentals, studio space and volunteer opportunities.”

This process includes getting out and finding art in some pretty unexpected places.

Good Mews is a Cat Shelter and adoption center in Marietta, Georgia that has partnered with the Farm’s Womb to bring foot traffic into their shelter. They host The Farm’s Womb’s Community Sketchbook Project. The increased attention results in greater awareness of the animals in need and ultimately higher adoption rates.

As the event patrons gather to sketch, share ideas and learn from each other, they provide attention and care to the homeless felines the shelter houses. The ink pens and colored pencils that litter the tables and floors are batted about by the cats waiting to be adopted.

Participant of the Community Sketchbook Project is distracted by a homeless kitten as she sketches on October 16, 2016 —
Photo by Laura Catherine

Artist Showcases

 The Farm’s Womb uses rented pop-up spaces to host art shows for the surrounding community. The shows are produced by the participating artists. They are encouraged to vend at the shows in-order-to cover some of their production costs. This turns the showcases into a marketplace as well, where creators sell jewelry, prints, and original pieces all up and down the outer ring of the venue.

Visual physical medium art is not the only art form supported. The productions also showcase local music talent, photographers, and writers who display their as poetry and short story excerpt installations. Cornwall feels that all art forms have a place at the table, and all are welcome to submit work and get involved.

A painting by Rebecca Cornwall displayed at the Farm’s Womb artist showcase on June 9, 2014 in Marietta, Georgia. — Photo by Colby Priest

With her own work, Cornwall hopes to convey a specific message.

“It’s apparent to me that I have a sense of loss when it comes to our connection as a species with our animal instinct,” Cornwall said.  “I’ve realized I want to educate myself and others on how our feelings and beliefs are connected to every living creature on the planet, as well as to the past experiences of our fellow human beings throughout time.”

Rapper LO$ takes the stage at the Farm’s Womb Artist showcase on October 30, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia — Photo by Dreux Doucette

As the night goes on the showcases evolve from a calm art display in museum style daylight, to a music and body paint filled dream reminiscent of a Cirque Du Soleil production. The crowd is illuminated with strings of twinkling lights creating a fairytale ambiance. The artists interact with the patrons gathering and dispersing inspiration and creativity.

Farm’s Womb artists Dreux Doucette and Kay Smokes interact with the patrons by participating in the body paint portion of the artist showcase on October 30, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia — Photo by Kendrick Sargent

“I hope to spread the idea that art and artists are not a relic of the past,” Cornwall said. “Our community is full of creative people all at our fingertips. Keeping things local is the best way to show your respect to the health of the community as a whole.”

The best way to keep the local art scene alive is by supporting art venues and attending shows and events. The Farm’s Womb can be reached or followed on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheFarmATL or on Instagram at @TheFarmsWomb.

 

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Jessica Cornwall

Jessica Cornwall is a senior at Kennesaw State University. She is studying journalism and plans to pursue a career in magazine editing and production. She lives in Marietta with her young son and two cats.