Where Atlanta - - WHERE NOW - www.won­derroot.org

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.”


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.


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.

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