MEET Eleanor: curator of curious art extravaganzas
Atlanta has tons of talented artists. And not just folks using paintbrushes, paper and the like. From 2D artists, to metal smiths, dancers, filmmakers, clothing designers and installation makers, our community is alive with creativity. Eleanor and her RAW: natural born artists program hopes to shed some light on the breadth and depth of our creative sector. Starting this Summer, RAW will be showcasing local talent through exciting and engaging shows. We sat down with Eleanor to find out what makes RAW unique and how she got involved in this national program.
Tell us a little about your project:
RAW:natural born artists is an indie arts organization that is truly for artists, by artists. Our founder, Heidi Luerra, conceptualized the organization in Southern California about seven years ago with a desire to create a unique forum for marketing her clothing line while also supporting her friends in the arts community. The movement really picked up momentum three years ago with its presence in just six cities in California; now RAW is in over 60 cities across the country and is even launching in Australia this year.
In all of these locations each month, RAW hosts showcases that feature artists across all genres: fashion, film, photography, music, visual art, performing art, and hair & makeup. The events are fun, creative celebrations that show a great cross section of local talent while also benefitting the individual artists. We want to ensure each person comes away from the event with valuable tools to further their career, so each showcase artist & their work or performance is thoroughly photographed by our professional staff photographer. The artist can use the photos at will as they continue marketing and self-promotion. We also produce 3-5 minute videos that include a personal interview and footage from the event for every participant. RAW artists are encouraged to continue showing their work around the country at any of our nationwide showcases, and we even host an annual RAWards show to recognize the most outstanding talent from the year.
RAW is all about fostering positive conversation in the arts community and supporting emerging artists through resources and opportunities. Not to mention, it’s just a fun night out!
How did you get started with it?
I have a formal background in fine arts and music, but my professional background is in event planning. I have been interested in marrying these two passions for some time, and when I came across the Showcase Director opportunity with RAW I knew it was the perfect storm. I can really only attribute it to the law of attraction!
What inspires you to do this work?
The greatest part about working with RAW is that I get to have a positive impact directly on my community. Working within this talented creative culture of people inspires me to live passionately, and there is no greater passion than fostering positivity.
What challenges have you faced?
RAW is essentially unheard of in Atlanta, so it can be a challenge trying to explain how this somewhat unusual platform operates. Fortunately I have been met with more interested curiosity than skeptical questioning, which speaks towards this city’s enthusiasm for new & positive opportunities for the arts.
Are you collaborating with anyone?
While we do not have any formal collaborations in place, I would like to work closely with other organizations like WonderRoot, gloATL, and Dance Truck to bolster our individual and communal strength alike. As always, we are stronger united than we are divided!
What impact are you hoping to have on our Atlanta community?
Aside from positively benefitting individual artists in their career growth, I hope our showcases attract fresh, new faces to the arts community with this fun, creative approach to an “art show.” There is something for everyone.
Would you like to see this replicated?
I believe that RAW has developed a fantastic platform for community participation that can successfully extend to national exposure for artists who engage with our organization. However, more movement, expression, collaboration, experimentation… these are all positive things that can be mutually beneficial.
What kind of help do you need to keep this going?
RAW needs interest from the community in order to be successful. We need lots and lots of talented artists who are interested in showcasing each month (of which there are plenty!), and we need lots and lots of patrons excited to come out and experience something different. We want everyone to know who RAW is and what RAW does.
What are some of the biggest issues you see facing Atlanta?
I find the human trafficking phenomenon to be deeply disturbing and unfortunate. For a city of so much progress in civil rights, such an insidious movement has incredibly sad implications for the future of the young children being fostered in this environment. I’m encouraged by the programs that are committed to exposing and eradicating this practice, and I think the more positive role models we can create for our city’s youth who are being raised without constructive parental guidance, the better.
What are some of your favorite things and organizations around town?
There is so much I love about Atlanta. I love going to Your Dekalb Farmers Market on a Saturday and seeing the extraordinary diversity of cultures in our city. I admire our universities’ commitment to relevant community integration, like Emory’s Ethics & the Arts program. And I’ll never pass up an opportunity to enjoy a leisurely neighborhood breakfast in Cabbagetown at Stone Soup Kitchen! Atlanta has so much charm, so many wonderful things to discover.
Where can interested readers find you?
You can find out more about RAW:natural born artists by visiting www.RAWartists.org, or email me directly at eleanor@RAWartists.org.