Jason Koon Screenwriter
The Old School Studio (TOSS) will cap off a summer of arts activities and summer camps with an arts festival in downtown Morganton on Saturday.
Scheduled to be held from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday from the Farmers’ Market at the intersection of North Green Street and Avery Avenue, the festival will feature food, activities, improv games and artwork for sale. TOSS founder Kathryn Ervin said she hopes planning the festival to coincide with the State of Origin Craft Brew Festival will make it part of a larger community gathering downtown Saturday.
“State of Origin is right around the corner, so I hope people come and go between Fonta and the courthouse lawn,” she said.
The centerpiece of the event will be an exhibit created by Artist-in-Residence Zak Foster who has worked with TOSS campers over the summer.
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“The campers had so much fun this year,” Ervin said. “We explored some really complex subjects through art…art is a powerful vehicle for self-discovery and I’m so proud of the work that’s been done this summer.”
During the four weeks of summer camp, 90 local students explored career paths through art, creating more than 450 projects in total according to Ervin.
“Children are so remarkably absorbent. They’ll take an idea and internalize it, and then the result will be something really special and unique,” she said. “It was really interesting to see how they brought the concepts to life.”
Foster agreed, saying he was inspired by his experience working with children at TOSS.
“Kids know what they like in a way adults don’t,” Foster said. “There was no hesitation, no hesitation, they went for it and they jumped in. It was really inspiring for me.”
For Foster, the TOSS camps were her first experience teaching children to sew.
“I didn’t know how much they would be able to embroider,” he said. “I enlisted the help of a few friends who had worked with children in the past with sewing and they gave me great advice and projects.”
Foster is a quilter who makes memory quilts for people who have lost loved ones.
“When someone dies, the family will send me clothes and I will quilt them,” he said.
At the TOSS Art Party, Foster will present a piece called “Afterlife,” which is a series of quilts created to breathe new life into old discarded textiles.
“(They) capture his interpretation of circularity,” Ervin said. “This is the founding principle of Material Return, a social enterprise that gives new life to discarded fabrics.”
Foster has stated that one of his guiding principles in life and art is to “live as lightly as possible on the earth”.
“For me, that means not buying a lot of new stuff to create my work, trying to work with the resources that already exist around me to make these quilts,” he said. “In that sense, my values align a bit with those of TOSS.”
Foster said she visited Opportunity Threads in Morganton on her first day in residence. He was inspired by the process they use and the unused leftovers in the process.
“Their system is that people send them t-shirts, they cut a giant square out of the front and what’s left is recycled,” he said. “It was these remains that I found really interesting. They were like executives; they were like windows through which one could look.
Foster transformed these “frames” along with repurposed foundation fabrics from TOSS into her project.
“I tried to organize them in such a way that they felt a bit alive,” he said. “Everything in the project was salvaged or repurposed.”
Ervin said having an artist-in-residence is a rare opportunity for a rural community, but believes it can allow his organization to foster community conversations around important topics such as, in this case, reuse and sustainability.
“An artist in residence is an incredible opportunity for a creator to develop a creative project based on a particular theme,” she said. “In a small rural community, we need civil dialogue forums like this where we can all come together.”
In addition to art exhibits, TOSS students will also be selling works they have created over the summer.
Food will be provided by Timberwoods, Mom’s Egg Rolls and Super Ice Cream. Camp families will receive four free food tickets. Everyone is welcome to purchase food and all other TOSS Summer Art Party activities are free.
Jason Koon is editor and can be reached at [email protected]