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Thought Leadership Views From Peachtree

Artist Residencies in Midtown: An Essential Environment for Creativity

National Dance Day Celebration at Colony Square. Photo Credit: Shoccara Marcus

By Shoccara Marcus, Artist-in Residence at Cousins Properties’ Promenade

I describe myself as a dancer first, and a photographer second. I fulfill love of both crafts with dance photography. I get a joy out of putting dancers in different environments and creating a dialogue with the line, shape, and form of the body in relation with the line, shape, and form of the environment. It’s my form of activating the space. 

For the past year and a half, I have had the blessing of having a dedicated physical environment for my creativity. I am the current artist-in-residence at Cousins’ Properties Promenade building, a tower in the heart of the vibrant Midtown district whose owners believe in showcasing the talent of local artists by offering them studio workspace. 

My studio helps me block out distractions and zone into the flow of creating. And I get to do it in a thriving urban place. I’ve been able to gather my thoughts and ideas, meet with creatives to prepare for shoots, print test prints and test shoots with my dancers before the actual shoot. I produced National Dance Day Celebration at Colony Square and taught a dance photography workshop on its rooftop. I created four dance films and produced DanceAtlanta!, a set of postcards featuring some of the most iconic locations in Atlanta; and created an extensive portfolio of images highlighting dancers in different environments around the city. View my work here. 

Having access to dedicated studio space allows artists to fall into a creative trance and execute a vision without the pressure of the world right there. Artists need space to explore and figure out our strengths and witnesses so we can be greater than what we were yesterday. I am really thankful to Cousins Properties because I got a chance to work on projects I would have never attempted or thought about doing were it not for the residency program. The creative world made space for me once I got this residency. 

I have more confidence in my craft because of this residency. I also feel I’ve been able to grow my business and network. I think more people are now aware that there is a black female dance photographer here in Atlanta. 

When I approach property managers with my ideas, they are fascinated, and I believe that has created a connection for future opportunities. The most challenging part has been the pandemic, which meant I had to pivot from wanting to be inside different buildings and find spaces outside. 

Midtown needs more spaces like this. Midtown Alliance is working with other commercial properties to expand studio residencies in the district as part of its Heart of the Art program, which launched last year to help support the local arts community and build upon a mission to amplify the creative experience in Midtown. Each resident in the program will be awarded free studio space for a year and a stipend, plus the opportunity to showcase their work and expand their network. 

If you know a local visual artist in the Midtown area, I encourage you to tell them about this program and apply before the deadline May 7.  

To aspiring and established artists in Atlanta, I want to share that creativity is a beautiful process. Don’t rush it. Be confident and trust the process. I feel like I am just starting, and my residency at Promenade is almost over. So go ahead and start your process. It’s waiting for you.

 

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