Artist residencies in Midtown: an essential environment for creativity
By Shoccara Marcus, Artist in Residence at Cousins Properties Drive
I describe myself first as a dancer, then as a photographer. I realize the love of both professions with dance photography. I find joy in placing the dancers in different environments and creating a dialogue with the line, shape and form of the body in relation to the line, shape and form of the environment. This is my form of activation of space.
For a year and a half, I have had the blessing of having a physical environment dedicated to my creativity. I’m the current Artist in Residence of the Cousins’ Properties Promenade building, a tower block in the heart of bustling Midtown whose owners believe in showcasing the talent of local artists by providing them with studio work space.
My studio helps me block out distractions and focus on the flow of creation. And I can do it in a thriving urban location. I got to put my thoughts and ideas together, meet creatives to prepare for the shoots, print test prints and shoot tests with my dancers before the actual shoot. I produced the National Dance Day celebration in 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 Atlanta’s most iconic places; and created a large portfolio of images showcasing dancers in different city environments. See my work here.
Having access to a dedicated studio space allows artists to fall into a creative trance and execute a vision without the pressure of the world. Artists need space to explore and understand our strengths and witnesses so that we can be greater than we were yesterday. I am truly grateful to Cousins Properties because I have had the chance to work on projects that I would never have attempted or thought to do without the residency program. The creative world made room for me once I got this residency.
I have more confidence in my job thanks to this residency. I also feel that I have been able to develop my business and my network. I think more people now know that there is a black dance photographer here in Atlanta.
When I approach property managers with my ideas, they are mesmerized and I believe it has created a bond for future opportunities. The hardest part was the pandemic, which forced me to no longer want 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 residences in the neighborhood as part of its Heart of Art program, which launched last year to help support the local arts community and build on a mission to amplify the creative experience in Midtown. Each resident of the program will receive free studio space for one year and a stipend, as well as the opportunity to showcase their work and expand their network.
If you know of 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. Do not rush. Be confident and trust the process. I feel like I’m starting and my residency at Promenade is almost complete. So go ahead and start your process. He’s waiting for you.