Local artists take break from secret project and speak to community

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COLUMBIA – Local True/False artists are taking a break from a secret project to speak with festival enthusiasts about the art featured at True/False. 

“I would really love for it to be more of a conversation with the audience, so whoever comes is welcome to ask any questions they want to ask or if they have any comments or, it would be great to have dialogue between us and whoever comes,” said local artist Becca Sullinger.

The artists-in-residence workshop at 5 p.m. Thursday at Dogwood Studios is the second of three community talks about True/False art.

Sullinger said when she was offered the opportunity to host, she didn’t know what to do at first.

“It was kind of a little overwhelming because I was trying to figure out which part of the festival that I’ve made art for is the most interesting,” she said. “Instead of doing the same talk three times I decided to do a talk with all of the different groups that I’ve been working with.”

Thursday’s workshop with feature three other artists from the Neon Tree House collective, including Gabe Meyer.

“We’ll just get into our adventures as Neon Tree House, which involves everything from hikes, because we are inspired by nature and we like to get out and have fun together, to rummaging through old warehouses for materials, so definitely a trip down memory lane,” Meyer said.

He’s looking forward to hearing what the community wants to know about their art and the conversations that will ensue.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun because I’m going to talk about things that I didn’t anticipate. I’m sure that stuff will come up and it will be a very organic process,” Meyer said.

One thing the artists won’t be talking about is the secret party space they are working on for the festival. What they will say is the location will be completely transformed.

“It’s huge,” Sullinger said. "After we build the space, we also have a lighting crew that comes in and we have DJ’s that come in and we build DJ booths for them, so we are kind of talking back and forth with them and catering with them,”

The artists said it takes a team to create the end result.

“It’s also impossible to think that you could design a space that big by yourself," Sullinger said. "Everyone has ideas and builds off of each other’s ideas."

Meyer said, while the space is virtually empty right now, it will come together. 

“One of the main things with these installs is how much time we devote to being immersed in the space, and it’s not always a conversation,” Meyer said. “Sometimes it’s staring at the walls for three hours drinking coffee. It’s not a dedication that you have to remind yourself to do.”

Brian Doss, another member of Neon Tree House, said he’s excited about the space because it’s a clean slate with little to no restrictions. But it also comes with its share of obstacles. 

“It’s figuring out the workarounds and adding and subtracting a lot of features in the building,” Doss said. “It’s seeing how far you can push that and how that makes sense to have a space that pulls people in.”

The artists have complete freedom to determine how the space will look come March.

“True False, love them. They give us total creative freedom and enough resources to accomplish our goals and our dreams,” Meyer said. “The excitement is the freedom that is involved in it.”

The last artist workshop will be held at Dogwood Studios on Feb. 11 at 5 p.m.