Creative Connections | How AIR Serenbe Fosters Artists’ New Form

Thirty-two miles southeast of Atlanta is Serenbe, a New Urbanist Community tucked into Georgia’s sprawling landscape. This quaint retreat offers a slower pace from the hustle and bustle of Atlanta, where you can walk instead of drive and still double down on seriously delicious fried chicken (which we can all get behind).

If you’ve been wondering, ‘What else could possibly be going on down there?’ you wouldn’t be alone. We pondered this too, so we did a little digging. As it turns out, there’s some really cool shit happening.

While Serenbe’s Art Over Dinner series easily captured our hearts with its delicate pairing of homegrown fare and local art, our eyes are on AIR Serenbe, their Artist in Residency program. Since 2007, AIR Serenbe has given mid-career creatives more than a space to stash their supplies. Their program offers a thoughtful approach to supporting artists in the development of new work while also exposing them to new audiences both at Serenbe and in Metro Atlanta.

“There are about 500 artist residency programs nationwide,” explained Brandon Hinman, executive director of AIR Serenbe. “We work hard to provide the valuable resources of space and time together in a way that artists can then access to accelerate new work. While in residence at AIR Serenbe, the artists are able to focus on new work and take advantage of our program’s support; it’s a great creative acceleration and incubation time for them. We then showcase these artists through live public programming that brings audiences in close contact with the artist’s processes and practices.”

“At its core, residences are a private, quiet and ephemeral thing. We’re not putting on big plays and concerts, but the programming that we do with our artists is designed to take people closer to that person than any other organization can. A large museum is not going to orchestrate you sitting and having a meal with an artist in the same way. We help people get behind the scenes of these brilliant minds and the work they produce.”

Creatives from all disciplines – actors and musicians to painters and writers – are nominated for AIR Serenbe, a unique approach to other existing artist-in-residence programs. Beyond the benefits of audience development and a reprieve to create something fresh, AIR Serenbe’s triple threat lies within their partnerships.

“As we grow, we are expanding our partnerships with intown organizations; serving artists who have different ways of creating their work. Our current artist in residence is an Atlanta-based emcee and hip-hop artist Bright Son. He is doing our Shy Jones Focused Fellowship, designed for a lyricist making work for children and about the experience of childhood. It’s a specific angle but one that is important. We partnered on that fellowship with Atlanta-based nonprofit Soul Food Cypher.”

“We are also excited to expand this work with our first National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant. The project this grant will fund is relevant because it supports artists who use speaking as performance. Over the last four years, we have supported spoken word poets, storytellers, and lyricists, and we want to continue to expand that focus; we want to work with outstanding artists who produce anything and everything from freestyle rap to TED Talks. We really want to think about the voice as a tool that can create inspired work to change lives and communities.”

While AIR Serenbe is laser-focused on playing host during these intimate gatherings, they also have a few larger productions up their sleeves. Some of their NEA grant will fund Here Say, a coalescing of eight spoken word artists from past AIR Serenbe residences. A few short weeks after Here Say’s showcase on October 17th, Serenbe will present Filmer, a premiere of over a dozen short portrait films of their artists in residence. These films are new works created by local filmmakers and will be shown for the first time to the public at the Rich Theatre at the Woodruff Arts Center on November 3rd.

“We hope to draw audiences to these events from both Serenbe, as well as the metro Atlanta area. There is a good synergy between what we do and the emerging talent in the urban environment of the city.”

To see all of AIR Serenbe’s upcoming events head here. You can also keep up with their latest happenings by following Serenbe on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

We will be giving away two tickets to Filmer in November, so stay plugged in with us for upcoming details on that giveaway! 

Photos are property of AIR Serenbe.