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September 2005

Andrew Crawford, Sculptor

Its roots are in mythology and magic. The ability to bend, shape and create beauty from cold, hard metals has fascinated mankind for over 6000 years. Ancient civilizations held metal artisans in high esteem, if not reverence. Greeks and Romans worshipped gods who crafted at the anvil. The billows of the forge breathe life into the fire and the fire coaxes the beauty of the metal into a work of craftsmanship. The magnificence is elemental… the power captivating. During America's first century, blacksmithing was appreciated more for its function than form. Blacksmiths shoed horses, made plow blades and kept farm equipment running. With the advent of the industrial revolution, the ensuing mechanization and urbanization of America's workforce resulted in the decline of metalsmithing on such a large scale. During the 1970s, blacksmithing began to experience resurgence as an art form. Young artists were exposed to the craft at institutions of higher learning and a whole new generation of metal artisans was born.

Andrew Crawford founded his studio, the Andrew T. Crawford Ironworks in 1993. A dozen years later, Andrew Crawford is an iron artisan and sculptor of renown in Atlanta. Trained at the Rhode Island School of Design, Andrew's unique works of both form and function can be found across Atlanta and beyond. From his magnificent design of functional objects, like the gates to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, to his more recent forays into sculptures for galleries, Andrew's contemporary creative genius is displayed through multiple mediums. Georgia Public Broadcasting first featured this amazing artist back in 1999. Join State of the Arts as we visit his studios again and find out what the last six years have wrought. To see more of Crawford's work or to learn more about the sculpture visit his website.

Center for Puppetry Arts

Shadow puppets, marionettes, sock puppets and many other versatile characters have enthralled audiences throughout the rich history of puppetry. Whether they're made of wood, fabric or paper, puppets capture the imagination, and The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta offers visitors an opportunity to learn more about the art and enjoy puppet shows from all over the world. The Center for Puppetry Arts is the largest organization in America dedicated entirely to the art of puppet theater. The organization also houses a puppet museum that presents the history of puppetry in various cultures and illustrates the impact of the art form as a tool for teaching, healing and communication. The collection boasts over one thousand puppets and posters of historical and cultural significance.

The newest original production at The Center for Puppetry Arts is a highly creative and wickedly funny show for adults called Avanti Da Vinci. The story revolves around Leonardo Da Vinci as an inventor and superhero, Renaissance Man. With Mona Lisa as the damsel in distress, Da Vinci must rescue the fair maiden from the evil Borgias. Full of historical facts and fiction, the play offers an evening of laughter and fun for grownup audiences. The play garnered great acclaim, and has even been performed at a festival in Slovakia. To learn more about the Center's productions and museum look them up on the web.

Governor's Mansion Restoration

After the colonies declared their independence from England, a style of decoration emerged in the new nation of America. From 1780 to 1820, furniture that mimicked the English styles of the time became popular in the United States. The colors of the Federalist style were very light in motif and adorned with symbols of a budding nation: stars, eagles, shields, flags and cornucopias were common. When the State of Georgia decided to build a permanent residence for its Chief Executive over 140 years later, a 70-member fine arts committee chose to decorate and furnish the Mansion in the Federalist style.

The committee obtained for the Georgia Governor's Mansion what is today one of the top five collections of Federalist period antiques in the United States. Originally acquired in 1967 when the Mansion was under construction, the collection is now valued at just over $19.5 million. Despite constant upkeep, there are pieces in need of restoration, preservation or replacement after almost four decades of use. To raise funds for restoration efforts, First Lady Mary Perdue established the Friends of the Mansion, a non-profit organization, in 2004. Mrs. Perdue graciously invited State of the Arts to the Mansion for a preview of the first few restoration projects. To learn more about the Governor's Mansion look them up on the web.

Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah College of Art and Design opened in Savannah, Georgia in 1978 with just a few dozen students. Today SCAD has an enrollment of 7,000 and a mission to prepare students for careers in the visual and performing arts, design, the building arts, and the history of art and architecture. Along with helping students prepare for successful careers in the arts, the college also emphasizes learning through individual attention in a supportive environment. Providing an arts education in a unique environment is a hallmark of the Savannah College of Art and Design; SCAD purchases rundown historic buildings around Savannah and restores them, creating classroom buildings and historical significance. Another unique atmosphere SCAD offers is its campus in the south of France. The Lacoste campus is set in a medieval town with a population of 300 people, and it provides the opportunity for students to immerse themselves in a culture very different from their own.

In 2005, SCAD opened a campus in Atlanta, offering courses in many of the subjects currently taught in Savannah. Located in the old IXL building, SCAD is already exploring other areas of Atlanta to expand. The college recently purchased the 1883 Peter's House in Midtown Atlanta, continuing its trend of buying and preserving historic homes. To find out about enrollment or see what else the college has to offer, go to their website.

Swamp Gravy

Swamp Gravy, Georgia's official folk life play, entertains audiences daily in the small town of Colquitt, Georgia. Named after a regional culinary specialty, the play blends comedy, drama and music into a different story each year. Running for three weeks in the fall and spring, Swamp Gravy combines stories from local residents with musical numbers and show-stopping performances. Eighty volunteer performers, who range in age from four to 80, act out happenings in Colquitt's history for tourists coming to enjoy the show.

In the spring of 2005, Swamp Gravy featured Down at the Depot. The performance focused on stories about the old train depot on the outskirts of town. The depot is no longer standing, but many stories about it still survive today. The show revolves around the depot manager and his family, with the engineer and dozens of supporting characters re-enacting moments that happened around the depot.
To find out more about Swamp Gravy visit their website.

Zelda Grant

Zelda Grant is a self-taught fabric artist from Atlanta, Georgia with a degree in psychology and a background in art therapy. At an early age, she discovered a love of sewing that blossomed into an expression of art. After spending time in a series of unfulfilling jobs, she became a full-time artist in 1989. She is the owner of Bag Lady & Company, a source for one-of-a-kind cultural arts and artifacts.

In addition to being an artist and entrepreneur, Grant also shares her craft with thousands of students on the artist roster for the Georgia Council for the Arts and Young Audiences of Atlanta. By participating in workshops, Zelda is able to teach her art to people of all ages. In 2002, she published a book that allows novices to create their own fabric art in Fabric Crafts: 15 Creative Projects and Home Accents You Can Make. Most recently she has focused on her art that she makes in her studio in Atlanta, Georgia. To learn more about Zelda Grant, visit the Young Audience website.

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