Mcleod receives MakeWork grant
Cleveland State Community College assistant art instructor Mark McLeod was recently awarded a grant through MakeWork, part of the CreateHere initiative in Chattanooga.
McLeod will receive funding over the course of a year to develop an entirely new body of work.
MakeWork is an arts grant program open to emerging and established artists and artisans within a 50-mile radius of Chattanooga. The core mission of the program is to stimulate Chattanooga’s creative economy and empower artists and artisans with the tools to succeed and grow. Rising and established artists alike are eligible for assistance for studio rental, tools, workshops, and those “someday-I’d-love-to” projects.
MakeWork debuted in January 2008. Since that time, the program has awarded $450,000 to 55 artists and artisans, an investment in Chattanooga’s creative community that has stimulated cultural and economic development. MakeWork recipients include cheese makers, portrait artists, musicians, cutting-edge graphic designers, and performing artists. Along with sharing their work with the community, MakeWork artists commit to attend sustainability sessions through SpringBoard and participate in a showcase of their work.
“I submitted a proposal that included five or six projects that all dealt with the current state of the economy,” stated McLeod. “I’m working on a major body of work that deals with systems and symbols of power within the financial sector.”
According to McLeod, these works include a life-size bank vault, six large diptych paintings that illustrate the major financial holdings in the U.S., an alchemy table used for the creation of gold bricks, screen prints of various money routes, and an interactive board game in which viewers will be able to slide armored cars across the board, create tunnels, and man defenses in an effort to stage their own bank heist in which they can either take or defend what is theirs.
“In this body of work, I am interested in how symbols such as currency are created and regulated; how they impact everything that we do from buying groceries to planning for retirement. I am also interested in possible alternatives to this system, particularly a re-examination of the practice of barter and trade and/or a reduction of financial giants. This body of work seeks to examine how these systems work through artistic and investigative means.”
McLeod said his work combines a variety of different media and methods that challenge preconceived ideas of art. “I believe that the work can take on a life outside of itself, through word-of-mouth, stories, interactions, performances, theater, and/or dialogue. I am interested in creating an experience for the viewer and not just static objects to be experienced. My passion for these experiences can be found in my teaching, my art, and my community-based artist residency, Accessibility. I believe being able to give viewers something different contributes greatly to the cultural capital both in Chattanooga and the surrounding area.”
“CreateHere and MakeWork are both amazing programs as far as supporting local artists,” said McLeod. “Because of this program, I am able to realize an entire new body of work that I would otherwise not be able to do.”
McLeod heavily involves his art students and community members in the creation of his work, as well as the research and planning. “I think these experiences give students and future artists a better understanding of the process of making art as a working artist. By focusing on issues such as the current state of our economy and the financial means that led us here, I hope that at the very least a dialogue is generated.”