Simply put, WonderRoot “unite artists and community to inspire positive social change,” according to Jake Pardee, WonderRoot’s communications and development coordinator. ”When WonderRoot first began in 2004, we were much more focused on building community and resources for artists to have thriving careers in Atlanta. We wanted to make our city’s arts ecosystem more robust,” Pardee said. That mission-oriented work, however, is taking root in diverse shapes and forms.
“In the past 3 years or so, with the adoption of our new strategic plan, we have maintained this work of supporting emerging artists (through programs like the Hughley Fellowship and the WonderRoot Community Arts Center) while we have also been working more frequently with ‘non-arts’ entities to bring arts and culture strategies and solutions into their work.” Located in Reynoldstown, the Community Arts Center shelters resources for member artists, including a ceramics studio, dark room, library, recording studio and digital media lab, as well as welcomes to the public to attend workshops and visit the the Activist Screen Print Studio (ASPS). “We work with various local artists to create prints that are burned onto screens by our generous ASPS sponsor: IS Studio,” Pardee said. “These prints address a specific social justice issue—past initiatives include immigration rights, housing affordability, anti-racism and more. People can come to the studio and learn more about whichever social justice issue is being highlighted at that time, then they themselves can learn how to make a screen print and they get to leave with a piece of original art.”
WonderRoot’s outreach continues to extend beyond the walls of its Community Arts Center, too. “In 2015 we began working with MARTA (through the TransFormation Alliance) on an initiative called ‘En Route’ which creates meaningful, aesthetically imaginative, high-quality, text-based murals that explore issues of access, mobility and public transportation. Not only did we install murals through community engagement at King Memorial, Oakland City, and Ashby Stations but 2 years into our partnership, MARTA created and hired a new position to manage their public art beyond the En Route initiative.”
GET INVOLVED MEET ARTISTS & MAKERS AT PONCE CITY MARKET
Thanks to hip food hall and shopping mecca’s location along the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail, WonderRoot’s Artist & Maker Market is held one Sunday afternoon each month and gives local artisans a prime opportunity to display and sell their work. Vendors apply for a table, and the application fees of accepted vendors directly fund WonderRoot’s Creative Youth Development programs with art students in Atlanta Public Schools.
OFF THE WALL
In collaboration with the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee, WonderRoot is leading a city-wide initiative called Off the Wall. Through murals, media, and community conversations, the multi-disciplinary project aims to share elements of the city’s civil rights and social justice journey in pursuit of civil rights, human rights and a more equitable future for all Atlantans. More simply put, it’s pretty wonderful. This fall, Pardee added that there will be many opportunities for volunteers to lend a hand. Follow @wonderroot and #OfftheWallATL on Instagram to stay in the loop.