Lakeland’s art scene has seen some considerable growth over the last year. Residents have likely noticed a surge in public art, either in the form of David Collin’s Tapestries project or in the form of a few permanent murals commissioned by the City of Lakeland. Two groups, the VOLUME Art Collective and the Lakeland Women’s Collective, are taking advantage of and facilitating that change.
“I truly believe these women are movers and shakers, and that they’ll be responsible for a lot of positive change in Lakeland,” says VOLUME Art Collective member Sunny Lynne.
April’s Pink Moon event showcased female artists in and around the Lakeland area, centering on the concept of the Divine Feminine. The idea for the show was first conceived by the Lakeland Women’s Collective all the way back in January of 2018. They knew they wanted to curate a women’s art showcase with the VOLUME Art Collective, but timing for the event was important. When the LWC discovered that April’s full moon would be a pink moon, they knew that pairing the show with the celestial event would add an extra layer of depth.
As it turns out, selecting a date is the easy part. Once a date for the event has been solidified, it’s onto curating, advertising, and hanging, among a host of other responsibilities. Sunny says that the secret to getting it all done, though, is having purpose and people. The two groups both had the same goal: creating an opportunity for local female artists. This clear direction helped guide their decision-making and gave their show a purpose.
VOLUME and the LWC had the support of ARTifact, a local studio and gallery space for artists in Lakeland, as well as support from all participating artists, bands, and vendors who appeared at the show. The group effort is part of what made the whole show a success.
Before getting to any of the stages of planning and organizing, however, artists must first submit work to be selected. Every show has different rules about what is or is not allowed, and many times those rules center on a theme. For the Pink Moon show, eligibility centered on theme (divine feminine) and the basis that the artists identified as women.
Each female artist was encouraged to create work centered on her interpretation of the divine feminine. Because the theme was so open-ended, the show received a wide range of submissions - over 130 pieces - that showcased each individual’s take on the divine feminine.
“I don’t think we anticipated how difficult it would be to choose the art that is being shown,” LWC member Ileah Green claimed.
According to Ileah, the first round of selections took 5 hours. Because the space in ARTifact is limited, the selection group had to be small. In the end, after a lot of deliberation, around 30 pieces were chosen to be exhibited. For many of these artists, this was their first time showing work.
Despite there being only 30 or so pieces shown, no two were alike. Some of the work is painted in a traditional style, such as Gianna Santucci’s large-scale painting of Jesus and Simon-Peter as women. Ruth Bolles entered a piece of work depicting a woman’s figure growing out of a tree of life. For this, she used stained glass, a medium that has a history of being used in churches, not necessarily gallery spaces. The exhibition also showcases sculpture. Diane Baires’ steel wool baby carriage and high heel shoe made of nails are just two examples of the 3D work found at the show.
In addition to artwork, Pink Moon also hosted local vendors, as well as live art, music, and spoken word. Vendors included Pin and Needle, Olive + Lemon, Savannah’s Sunshine Flowers, Goth Bombs, and Sam Caban. Ileah mentioned that keeping the vendors to a minimum was important, though, because they really wanted people to buy local art.
“Art shows are either seen as stuffy, hokey, or ‘out there.’” Sunny claims, “so our intention is to make art feel accessible without compromising the integrity of the work.”
Pink Moon’s solution to this problem was to feature live entertainment that stuck to the theme of the show. In this case, the live entertainment was provided by women and functioned as an extension of the visual art that was showcased.
As Ileah stated, “the divine feminine has so many interpretations,” so giving the people who connect more with performing arts a chance to present their point of view as well only made sense.
One of the most unique factors about the show was the full moon ritual at the end of the night. The ritual acted as an opportunity to meditate and release the limiting beliefs that can hold us back from reaching our full potential, creatively or otherwise.
Pink Moon also partnered with Hello Flo, Laura Davis’ organization dedicated to providing feminine products to underserved communities in Lakeland. Because the show was designed to support local women, this partnership was only natural. Attendees could bring feminine hygiene products to donate to Hello Flo at the show, but the organization is always accepting donations. Information can be found on their Facebook page.
Both the Lakeland Women’s Collective and the VOLUME Art Collective hope that audiences walked away from the show with a new respect for the talent Lakeland’s female artists have. It was the first show of its kind in Lakeland, and it is likely to inspire more events like it. Another show like this one is already in the works for next year.
Until then, Lakelanders are encouraged to find other ways to support local artists and help the local art community to grow.