CSA fall share  artist, Alex Waggoner has been very busy getting ready for the upcoming artwork release and her recent exhibition in Alaska. Luckily, co-founder Camela Guevara was able to catch up with her to talk in depth about her work, favorite music, and a surprising fact about avocados and dogs.

CG: Are there any other creative endeavors, besides your paintings that you are working on for CSA, that you would like to try?

AW: I just recently got my first 35mm and have enjoyed experimenting with that. My dad also gave me the Minolta I remember him using when I was a kid.

Update: Chris just got me a guitar for my birthday. It is a beautiful 1978 Washburn. Going through the very beginner steps of sore fingers and frustratingly slow scales and chords.

CG: Your work documents some run-down and forgotten areas in a truthful, yet dreamy manner. What is a destination you’d like to see and use to inspire new paintings?

AW: I loved living in Raleigh for six months last year and being inspired by the very different and new architecture relative to Charleston. As weird as this may sound I kind of would like to go to Florida and get immersed in some 1940-60s neighborhood weirdness. I got a taste of it in Fernandina Beach this summer and couldn’t get enough. Maybe like rural Midwest too. And of course France, Italy, Spain. That would probably do wild things to my paintings.

CG: What do you normally listen to in your studio?

AW: A little bit of everything. Music till I get tired of that and podcasts and movies and tv shows and sometimes nothing. Lately I have been really into The Beach Boys, Courtney Barnett, Leon Bridges, The Zombies, Tuscadero, and when I just don’t know always Zeppelin.

I have gotten super into Paul Simon as I am finishing up my CSA.

CG: Tell us something you’ve learned recently that was surprising to you.

AW: Avocados are bad for dogs. I have given Bishop the brown part of day old avocados so many times. Whoopsie

CG: What was the last museum show you visited that knocked your socks off?

AW: Went back to Dia beacon while I was in New York. Standing inside of Richard Serra’s Torqued Ellipses is one of my favorite feelings ever.

CG: Describe your ideal meal.

AW: I love food so much so honestly just a ton of different things. Or, a perfect summer meal of tomato pie, fresh corn, limas, and watermelon and some dry, Provencal rosé.

CG: I enjoyed seeing your home and studio space. How does living with your partner and fellow artist Chris Nickels influence your work and art practice?

AW: Chris sits down to do work and he will do it for like 12 plus hours. I on the other hand get distracted with a home studio but am trying harder to take a few notes from him! As far as our work it’s awesome to have someone there who you can get instant crits from. I really valued that at school. It’s great to have some other eyes on things to let you know when things are terrible or awesome or somewhere in between.

CG: What blogs or other media, art-related or otherwise, do you read regularly?

AW: I get Artforum but I have to admit I don’t do the best job at reading them all.

I am all about Instagram though. It’s such an immediate way to see what’s going on. My latest favorites are Max Seckel and Kristen Liu-Wong

CG: What are some goals you have for your work and artistic career?

AW: To quit my day job! Haha.

Artist Alex Waggoner at the 2015 Meet + Greet.

Artist Alex Waggoner at the 2015 Meet + Greet.


Alex Waggoner is one of the 2015 Fall share artists.



CSA co-founders AnneTrabue Nelson and Ann Simmons recently enjoyed a Q+A session with Fall share artist Lisa Shimko. Read on to learn about how she to came to live in Charleston, how her surroundings and her formal education affect her work, her favorite places to experience art, and more!

CSA: You grew up in York County, PA, and then studied at the University of Arts in Philadelphia before moving to South Carolina in 2000. What brought you here? Did the change in your surroundings significantly impact your work?

LS: I moved from Philadelphia to Hilton Head Island, SC with a guy I was dating, ultimately with or without him, I was looking for a change after spending my life, up until then, in the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast.  Almost a decade before my move to the South, before there was internet and google, the university library had a photo reference section where I was a bit obsessed to find scenes of live oak trees with Spanish moss of the south, which aided in sprouting my still ongoing series of “tree canopies”.

CSA: Part of your formal education is in Art Therapy. How does that play into your work and studio practice?

LS:This is a tough question to answer. Art Therapy is the study of Psychology with the emphasis of using art as a tool in therapy; ironically self-analyzing the impact on myself is a bit difficult.  What I will say comfortably is while studying/practicing Art Therapy, participating in teaching and various art outreach programs over the years, I see how important art is, not only therapeutically, but also in the possibility for learning/teaching.  Perhaps this is evident in my attempts to create aesthetically pleasing paintings with underlying environmental/wildlife conservation messages.

CSA: Your work is heavily inspired by the natural world and you do a great deal of research and explore many references to create your paintings. Can you discuss how your work plays a role in your environmental activism?

LS: I feel I still have a long long way to go, both educating myself and better communicating via my art.   Part of my art process is stream of consciousness so I have to trust all my research/experience will filter out into my paintings organically on some level.  Its a fine line because I don’t consider myself an illustrator, forcing a specific piece of information in a linear way. The stream of consciousness process imbues my paintings with the surreal aspects that I feel get closer to a sensation, something other than an intellectualized rendition of a factoid.  With all of that said, I have been wanting to create a visual book and the struggle is finding a way to keep a bit of the stream of consciousness but still have ideas understandable.

CSA: Do you remember the first piece you ever made?

LS: I don’t remember the first piece per se, but when I read this question thought of horses. Common for little girls to be obsessed with horses. I learned the anatomy and drew horses around me all the time. In 5th grade much to every one’s dismay I built a life size paper machè horse.

CSA: How did you find your style and how has it changed over time?

LS: When I was in college there seemed to be two schools of thought among my professors; pick a “style” and stick to it, the other, which I adhere to, is keep searching honestly and see what comes out.  I am earnest, honest, and sincere in creating art so feel over the years certain attributes that can be seen as my “style” have emerged, but really feel like its a hindrance to put the walls of a box around my creative process by subscribing to a self-imposed style.

CSA: Where will your artwork be one day? Who are you creating for?

LS: Really would love to have my art be more international. Would be great to be in galleries in many countries of the world. Perhaps if I do figure out my book that’ll be a ticket to international eyes.

CSA: What do you hope viewers take away from your art?

LS: This is a tough question to answer mainly because just like avoiding a self-imposed style hasten to comment on how I hope people will respond.  Of course I can say I hope there is a positive response, that perhaps the art can provoke thoughts of nature around them….but everyone is so different with their aesthetic inclinations.  If I think too much about what I hope other people will or will not see/feel in my work it will take away from my art-making process.

CSA: Did you always know you were going to be a working artist?  Did you come from a home where that was encouraged?

LS: It’s always been a dream to live a life with art in it somehow.  Not being cheeky, but honestly still continually learning how to be a working artist!  Come from a hard-working middle class family, don’t think making a living as an artist was a clear vision anyone could see, guess its less blurry as the years pass.

CSA: Are there artists in your family? If yes, have they directly influenced you as an artist?

LS: My mom was artistic but never pursued a career in art, though she was a nurse, and like any practice/career it takes its own creativity.  She did teach me a lot of art basics; an early memory is her ditching my crayons, breaking out nice oil pastels and teaching me how to create skin tones using layers of colors in one of my coloring books.  My grandfather (mom’s dad) was a musician and draftsman, unfortunately did not see much of him in my life, so may be proof of art genes?

CSA: What is the most indispensable item(s) in your studio?

LA: A good paintbrush, as in with a good tip for exact lines and detail work.

CSA: Where is your favorite place to experience art?

LS: Philadelphia Museum of Art.  I’ve grown up roaming the rooms of the PMA.  Still find solace, inspiration and wonder in this museum, never tire of it.

CSA: Outside of creating art, what do you love to do?

LS: Really love to be out on a boat here in the Low Country, the light, smells, textures.   Also love to hike in the mountains.  Guess its the needed polar opposites for balance.

CSA: What are some of your favorite places to go in Charleston for inspiration?

LS: Again I mention the waterways.  Anywhere by the water is my favorite.


Artist Lisa Shimko at the 2015 Meet + Greet.

Artist Lisa Shimko at the 2015 Meet + Greet.

Lisa Shimko is one of the 2015 Fall share artists.



Nina Garner‘s work, is delicate, earthy, and intuitive.  CSA co-founder, Kristy Bishop, had the chance to interview her and learn in depth about her travels, familial influences, and process. Read on to learn more about Nina’s work.

KB: How has living and traveling in Japan influenced your work?

NG: It’s hard to say exactly how living and traveling in Japan has influenced my work because I have a complicated relationship with my Japanese heritage. I am half Japanese (Okinawan, to be exact) but I don’t fully speak or understand the Japanese language so there has always been this barrier there. I think some of my work, especially my most recent work, has been about that barrier and documenting my travels as an outsider and using photography as a means to communicate with my Japanese family. Photographing someone can be a really intimate thing and it doesn’t take much language to do it. So in way, we are speaking to each other, even after I’ve returned home and I work with my negatives and produce a new piece. For me, it’s a constant dialogue.

KB: When creating a piece, what is your work flow like? Do you plan a piece out or is it more intuitive and fluid process?

NG: I usually just start with a photograph and let things flow naturally from there. I hardly plan out what I’m going to do. If I do, things just don’t seem to work out. Things can be so perfect in my head and then on paper it’s just a sad copy of that perfection.

KB: The materials that you use are a beautiful mix between natural finds and synthetic man-made objects. How have you come to that juxtaposition in materials?

NG: I love using natural materials (dried flowers, leaves, insects) because they are so pure, straight from the ground and they produce a nice earthy palette which gives my work an aged appearance. Lately though I have been draw to bright colors and textures natural materials just do not possess like neon pink. So I have been experimenting with this mix of natural and synthetic materials. I think I’m trying to find a balance between rustic simplicity and the hyper cute.

KB: What is the most unique or significant item that you’ve included in a work?

NG: This might be a little weird to some people but over the years I have been collecting my own grey hair. I’ve used this hair in a piece before and plan to use it more in the future. Though I’m still pretty young, I have a lot of grey hair and it’s a constant reminder that I am getting older. It’s a little grotesque, I know. But it’s helping me find the beauty in aging.

KB: What role does family play in your art?

NG: Family plays a huge role in my life and therefore naturally that transitions to my art. I love my family and I treasure the time I spend with them. In a way, my work helps me strengthen those familial relationships. For instance, my Japanese Grandfather is struggling with cancer. Even though he is so far away, it is difficult to know he is suffering. This has been a difficult stage in my life and a big influence on my work right now. I plan on creating a series that honors him and the beautiful life he has lived.

KB: What makes you choose a certain book to be the canvas of a piece?

NG: I have a collection of old books that I work with. I like books that are interesting colors and shapes. But I don’t really think about it that much when choosing. Whatever jumps out at me at the moment is what I’ll work with.

KB: Are there any new materials that you can’t wait to try out?

NG: I’m really interested in working with more textiles, silks and tulle. I’m also excited to get a new batch of insects from my friend’s farm on Johns Island, he’s been collecting some that he’s found in his barn.

KB: What makes film photography a special medium to you?

NG: I love film photography because it’s a slow medium in a world of instant gratification. You can’t rush the process, you have to be patient. Also nothing beats looking at a new batch of negatives and seeing all the possibilities.
KB: What do you like to listen to in your studio? Any podcast or music recommendations?

NG: I have a number of things I keep on rotation while working in my studio. I’ll either be listening to Morrissey or watching crime shows on my laptop. I also really like This American Life and I’m relistening to Serial (I still don’t know what to think!). I’m also a big fan of the podcast from Adam and Joe on the BBC. If you like British humor and nonsense then check it out.
KB: Every artist has a creative block at some point during working. What do you do to get your head and hands back into creating?

NG: When I’m in a rut it’s always good for me to go out and just shoot some new images and be re-inspired. Or just going out and finding new materials to work with is helpful. Other times I just have to sit and work through my block. I’ll sit with something for hours not liking what I’m doing then suddenly something will just come into place and I end up loving it.



Nina Garner is one of the 2015 Fall share artists.



CSA co-founder Erin Nathanson spoke with fall share artist Jordan Fowler about being a sculptor, his aspiration to exhibit works in public spaces, and learning from a young age that building things is second nature.

EN: What creative goals do you have on the horizon?

JF: I really want to push past the boundaries I have been working in for the last couple of years. Specifically, I am interested in experimenting with new materials and making some of my work into installations and hanging pieces rather than just individual objects.

EN: How has being at the College of Charleston and having access to the sculpture studio shaped your studio practice?

JF: It’s made all of the difference and has been a tremendous shortcut to diving straight into difficult work. The investment into the tools and space required to make my sculptures is an enormous expense and is increasingly difficult in the growing Charleston area. Access to the studio has given me a nice buffer zone while I accumulate my own tools and also offers me the ability to carry out other small projects which can be used to fund my sculpture. As a studio manager, I help students on a daily basis and I get a lot of inspiration from the creative things they are constantly generating.

EN: Do you work on multiple pieces at a time? Before you begin a piece how do you prepare?

JF: I always work on several pieces at a time, mainly because I get better ideas halfway through the creation process and my mind can’t rest until I begin the new idea. This generates a lot of incomplete projects that keeps me busy on a handful of pieces at once. Most of my work starts by playing with metal scraps and is then recreated on a larger scale. The preparation for this work involves either finding or making enough interesting building blocks to keep me on a creative path.

EN: What’s your earliest experience with sculpture? Which artists do you look to for inspiration?

JF: You could argue that my roots in sculpture stem from my fascination with making things as a child, especially with LEGO’s. I’ve built things with my hands my whole life but I was never passionate about sculpture until I began college and saw that I could create anything I could dream of in the studio space.

EN: Do you think sculpture has a place in Charleston? Are there opportunities for you to share your work easily?

JF: I think there is a growing space in Charleston for sculpture. It’s a growing city with businesses and public spaces that are increasingly spreading from the downtown area. The center of Charleston is beautiful and artistic on its own, but its expansion will need new ideas and new work to maintain its artistic reputation.

EN: Where will your work be one day? What is your dream exhibition location/institution?

JF: Hopefully outside in public areas. I’d love for my work to be a person’s favorite place to sit outside during their break at work. I also like the thought of making large sculptures that are found in distant places, such as a clearing in the middle of acres of woods.

EN: What do you do in your spare time?

JF: I try to spend time with my dog when i’m not busy in the studio, sometimes I will try to go surfing if the weather permits. In reality, most of my spare time is spent in the studio making sculptures.

EN: What advice do you have for aspiring sculpture artists?

JF: Become an expert with as many materials as you can. There is always a way to physically accomplish something that you think of; learning a variety of skills, tools, materials has been the most helpful thing for myself.

Artist Jordan Fowler at the 2015 Meet + Greet.

Artist Jordan Fowler at the 2015 Meet + Greet.

Jordan Fowler is one of the Fall share artists.




Co-founder Camela Guevara asked Summer share artist James Wine a few questions about his artistic practice, and then some just about life in general. Read on to learn what he listens to in his studio, which body parts inspire his work, and more!

CG: What creative goals do you have on the horizon?

JW: I have absolutely no idea. I’m just going to keep making art.

CG: Where is the strangest place you’ve found inspiration for your geometric works?

JW: I used to draw a lot of inspiration from the human body, specifically orifices. I probably shouldn’t go into detail about that.

CG: Do you have any interests completely unrelated to art that you would pursue in another life?

JW: I wouldn’t say anything is completely unrelated to art, but if I wasn’t spending all of my time doing that, I would want to become a carpenter. There’s just something magical about the smell of fresh cut wood, and having to be right the first time you cut something.

CG: What is your favorite meal?

JW: Just get me a jazzy pizza from Dellz anytime.

CG: How does your job at Artist & Craftsmen influence your work?

JW: Artist & Craftsman Supply has made me so much more knowledgeable about the materials that I’m using. I used to just stick with what I know, but now I want to try everything. I haven’t quite gotten to that mystical ‘everything’ yet, but I’m working my way there.

CG: Why did you want to be a part of Charleston Supported Art?

JW: I wanted to be a part of CSA because it’s cool! There isn’t a whole lot of variety here in Charleston when it comes to how artwork is seen and sold. So, this program was definitely a nice breath of fresh air. Plus who doesn’t want to work side by side with a bunch of incredibly talented people who are doing what you’re doing?

CG: If you could travel anywhere to see an art exhibition this summer, where would you go, and what show would you see?

JW: I’m not picky, I just want to go somewhere colder and see some Lucian Freud paintings.

CG: What’s a typical day in your studio like?

JW: It starts with a cleansing. I can’t begin my studio day unless everything is cleaned up to a satisfactory point. Afterwards I decide, is this a Netflix day or a music day? After 2 more hours of procrastinating, I’ll get to work. The process usually involves lots of sweet talking, or cursing, depending on how the piece is progressing.

CG: How do you handle a rut in a creative project? 

JW: I try something new. I always have different projects and materials lying around, so I jump into something else.

CG: What do you normally listen to in your studio?

JW: The sounds of Buffy kicking some butt, or of Dana Scully calling out Fox for being a weirdo. Other than that I’ve been listening to a lot of Eagulls, Parquet Courts, and Tame Impala.

Artist James Matthew Wine at the 2015 Meet + Greet.


James Wine is one of the 2015 Summer season artists.



CSA co-founder Erin Nathanson spoke with Lune Mer Porcelain about their collaboration, the need for support for artists in Charleston, and what summer shareholders can expect in their CSA – well just a “hint.”

EN: Ruth Ballou and Rena Lasch, you’re a collaborative duo. This is a first for Charleston Supported Art. What inspired you to apply together? What are the benefits of working as a team?

LMP: We were hoping that you would be open to the idea of us applying as a team because the C in CSA stands for Community. Community is about collaboration.  We love collaborating with each other, we see this as one of the biggest benefits of working as a team.  We both like being part of an artistic community.

EN: Let’s go back. What was your first experience with ceramic art?

RB: Seeing a potter in the mountains of Georgia was the first time I saw something that I thought was true magic. Watching a bowl or a mug emerge from a lump of clay seemed easy. But the first time I tried it myself I realized it was very difficult. It engaged me in a way that none of my other course work ever had.

EN: Have you seen a change in the medium over time?

LMP: The craft movement of 60’s has developed into a more sophisticated and broader range of work. Potters are generally very open about sharing skills and knowledge, both as individuals and at universities and colleges. As a result, there has been a rapid growth in the understanding of glaze chemistry, firing techniques and methods, as well as a deeper understanding of the 3d form and surface finishes. Clay is the original plastic; only imagination and persistence are required to stretch the limits as we know them. Potters seem to love doing just that.

EN: How did your collaboration come to fruition? 

RB: I first met Rena through a mutual friend when Rena helped design my garden. I was struck by her design aesthetic and artistic eye. We realized we had a common interest in clay, so she came to work in my studio as an exercise. We quickly developed a rapport in our work.

EN: What’s in store for the future of Lune Mer Porcelain? Any concepts floating around the studio?

LMP: We have some lighting ideas we are working on, as well as larger work. Both of these ideas push the limit of what we can do with clay, which is what we try to do with all our work.


EN: When you think about the arts in Charleston, how well is ceramic work supported? 

LMP: As individuals, I think artists in Charleston try to support each other.  Cone 10 Studios provides shared studio space and equipment. However, clay is a difficult medium to master that requires a lot of practice and expensive equipment and there is room for city or county establishment of community art centers.

In addition, very is little being done to bring clay work as an aesthetic and skill to the next generation through the educational system. The important contribution that working with clay can make to developing minds is sorely misunderstood and undervalued. Clay provides an opportunity to practice patience and persistence while thinking in 3 dimensions and solving multiple problems along the way to a finished product.

As for “the arts in Charleston” I think our City has a lot of room for growth and really needs to take a serious look at how it can nurture and sustain the artists that are an integral part of our community here in Charleston.

EN: Rena, working in porcelain is new to you but you’re familiar with three dimensional work. Tell us about your background in sculpture and landscape design and how you came to your current work in porcelain.

RL: Well, I am new to working with porcelain, but my experience working with clay goes back over 20 years.  Prior to this hand building venture with Ruth I worked on the wheel and I did figurative sculpture.  I will always feel like I am a beginner because the medium of clay provides an endless learning process.  Each clay body has different strengths and limitations.  Firing is an art unto itself.  The chemistry that is glazing one could spend a lifetime exploring, in fact I think Ruth is doing just that.
On the surface clay seems so direct and simple, but it is anything but that.
I see my work in landscape design and my clay work as very complementary.  I have found that one practice helps me in the other.  I really like working in tandem.
I have been a gardener all my life and I am endlessly fascinated by nature.  These things were strong reasons why I chose to earn my degree in Landscape Architecture.  Throughout my career I have tried to improving the quality of life through design.  I still strive for this.   I currently work on small scale residential garden designs although I do have ambitions to do large scale public garden/art projects.  We will see what the future brings.

EN: Ruth, how important would you say continued education in your art form is? You travel, lead and attend workshops, and have an MFA in ceramics. What has been your favorite learning experience?

RB: Without knowing it, I have always worked to the standard that Edgar Degas expressed in a quote I read 2 years ago in an exhibit of his work in Copenhagen:
“You must aim high, not of what you are doing, but of what you may do one day: without that, there’s no point in working.”

To this end, continued education is vital. My travel to other countries has exposed me to a wide variety of approaches to clay work, in galleries, museums, conferences, workshops, and conversations with other potters.  The most mind expanding workshop was at the ceramic center La Meridiana in Italy on paper clay porcelain with Giovanni Cimatti.  I had signed up for the course with some expectations. Instead, he opened my eyes to a whole new way of working with porcelain. Most recently, the International Ceramics Festival in Wales provided another amazing experience with artists from India, Serbia, the Philippines, Canada, France and the UK.

EN: How has this combination of backgrounds affected your work? Studio practice?

LMP: Our working together seems so easy.  We share many interests in common, we share a similar aesthetic, we both understand a balance of working together and allowing time alone in the studio. We also share a sense of play with our medium and take many opportunities to just have fun with new ideas. Our differences allow us to encourage each other to take chances.

EN: And at this point, let’s talk about the fabulous studio Lune Mer Porcelain is created in. What drives a healthy studio practice for a team of two people?

LMP: A clean ceramic studio is very important. We’re pretty compulsive about that and working safely. The dog and cats make sure we take regular breaks.

EN: What can CSA Summer Shareholders expect and look forward to?  

LMP: CSA gave us the opportunity to explore and expand ideas that had been floating around the studio. The Summer Shareholders can look forward to a bit of eavesdropping on our conversations with the clay.


Lune Mer Porcelain artists Ruth Ballou and Rena Lasch at the 2015 Meet + Greet.

Lune Mer Porcelain is one of the 2015 Summer season artists.



CSA co-founder Ann Simmons recently had the opportunity to ask Summer share artist Riki Matsuda a few questions. If you’ve been to Artist & Craftsman Supply on Calhoun Street in downtown Charleston within the past few months, you’ve probably met her. If you haven’t been so lucky, read on to learn a little more about her and her work.

AS: How would you describe your work in 3 words?

RM: subtle, peculiar, & unfixed

AS: How did you find your style and how has it changed over time?

RM: I found my style when a friend visiting my messy studio, picked up a piece and said, ‘This is you.’ After that I saw my style as a series of unconscious decisions that only I would make. I don’t worry about it too much because it effortlessly follows and adjusts as I change.

AS: You were born and raised in Charlotte, NC, and then studied in Ohio before moving to Charleston in 2014. What brought you here?

RM: After my mother joined my sister in Charleston, it slowly became the place I’d visit to be with them. Even though the weather is drastically different from Ohio, I feel very comfortable whenever I’m close to family.

AS: Books play a major role in your work – from providing inspiration to actual images and text being cut out and added to a piece. What was the last great book you read?

RM: Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami.

AS: Where will your artwork be one day? Who are you creating for?

RM: I imagine and hope that my work will hang in the living rooms, bedrooms, and hallways of people who can’t get enough of them.

AS: What do you hope viewers take away from your art?

RM: A twinkle in their eye or a muffled laugh is more than enough.

AS: We know that there’s at least one other artist in your family - your sister Hirona who participated in CSA’s 2014 Winter season. Are there other artists in your family? If yes, how have they influenced you as an artist?

RM: Hirona and I are the most similar types of artist, but my entire family is made up of imaginative thinkers who are ceaselessly witty and talented. My art is only a combination of what they have shared with me and what I have gathered on my own.


Riki (L) and her sister Hirona (R) before Hirona’s studio visit for CSA in 2014.

AS: What is the most indispensable item(s) in your studio?

RM: When my work becomes muddled or lost, I always turn to my photo albums.

AS: What has been the greatest joy for you as an artist?

RM: The best thing I’ve experienced comes from a quick word in passing or a warm smile of acknowledgment from the people I highly respect and admire.

AS: Outside of creating art, what do you love to do?

RM: Lift heavy things, pop my own popcorn, and sing along.


Riki Matsuda is one of the 2015 Summer season artists.



CSA co-founder Kristy Bishop had the opportunity to interview Summer share artist Arianne King Comer. She is a master batik artist greatly influenced by stories and events in the Lowcountry and around the world.  Read on to learn more about Arianne. 
KB: Is there symbology behind the batik blocks that you use? 
AKC: Usually, I’ve collected batik blocks that symbolize the essence of nature, spirit, and cultural rituals.
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KB: What are some of your favorite types of symbols that you use in your patterning?
AKC: The symbols that come to me most are the Yoruba bird of peace, the universal spiral symbol, the healing Indigo shades of blue, the Oshun colors of gold and red, and the celebration of waterways and ancient trees through repetitive rippling and leaf patterning.
KB: Your work is so influenced by West African culture, which has a significant history and impact on Charleston.  How does this inform your work? 
AKC: Although it’s true that I am inspired by my travels in Africa, I have found a lot of similar inspiration in design patterning here in the Lowcountry from African folk lore, Native American, French, Celtic, and India….I have collected stamps from the countries that celebrate Indigo textiling.
KB: What is a particular story from the Lowcountry that has influenced you?
AKC:  I am always influenced by current events that affect the Lowcountry’s tomorrows. I use the gift of creating  art to reflect the importance of social justice and speak to the importance of ecology of this beautiful and historical environment. Nothing fires me up more than stories of oppressive behavior to human kind, it’s in my DNA….Native American, Irish, West or Northern Africa…..I use my art to speak out against atrocities.  I cannot tell you at this moment what art is coming from these recent events in Charleston with the nine people killed at the church,  an exhibit called Passages two falls ago held at Emmanuel AME and the Confederate Flag coming down….but believe me it’s coming…it has to for me to move on.
KB: Tell me about your trip to Nigeria and how that has influenced your work. 
AKC: I knew from a documentary  Kindred Spirits on PBS that there was this Yoruba culture that celebrated it’s ancestors through the arts and the artists were relentless in creating it’s art in all mediums.   My quest was to immerse myself in that dedication,  modeling  that behavior.  And so, I have.  The other technique I celebrate is looking at all over patterning, celebrating no “negative space” as they believe total patterning celebrates the ancestral spirit.
KB: Are there any tools that you use in your artistic practice that you couldn’t live without? 
AKC: Ha!  I’ve just moved!  And it took me almost a month to get all of my tools, my collection, my inspirational photos, music…. to follow me to my new place.  I’m still challenged to organize it all as they all are vital to creating my next “Ah Ha” piece.
Artist Arianne King Comer at the 2015 Meet + Greet.

Artist Arianne King Comer at the 2015 Meet + Greet.



Arianne King-Comer is one of the 2015 Summer season artists.



Spring share artist Karin Olah recently sat down to chat with CSA co-founder Anne Trabue Watson-Nelson. Read on to see what she said about working as an artist, being a full time mom, her time in Colorado, and the daily dance parties she has in her studio!

ATWN: Do you remember the first piece you ever made? 

Image:  I Like Being a Kid, 1982, crayon, pencil, and marker on paper, 11 x 14 inches

ATWN: What is your process for creating work?

KO: I work from photographs that I take while on family walks, days at the beach, and even views from favorite playgrounds.

When in my studio, I reference several photos when making one painting. Sometimes using the sunlight or clouds from photo A and the distant coastline from photo B, I can patchwork together my own Southern place and time.

My process begins with an under-drawing akin to an architectural draft. Sometimes these lines peek through, revealing a history of mark making. I add more layers with opaque gouache, acrylic paint, watercolor crayons, pencil, and pastels. Then a layer of what makes my work uniquely “Karin Olah” - intricately cut fabric, soaked in rice starch, and applied as brushstrokes. Then I repeat: drawing, painting, and fabric collage, up to 12 layers deep. From a distance, the painting has a depth in color and texture. Up close, a viewer can see the hand-dyed cotton, linen, and silk fabrics I use.

ATWN: Do you have a favorite fabric to work with?

KO: Seersucker - it’s southern, it’s preppy, it’s summery, and it’s fun to use stripes.

ATWN: Did living in Colorado change your work in any way?  Have other cities that you’ve lived in affected your work?

KO: I lived in Colorado in 2012 and 2013.  In those years the series was very bright, gem-toned abstract paintings (some are at Corrigan Gallery right now). One winter, my unheated studio was too cold, so I took over the kitchen table with my fabric and paints.  I worked on small studies of the veggies, herbs, and fruits from the fridge.

Image:  Strawberry Rhubarb, 2013, Fabric, Gouache, Pastel, Pencil on Linen, 14 x 18 inches

ATWN: Has becoming a mother affected the work that you do?

KO: Keeping the business going while having two little girls is not easy. When I have my designated studio-time and my husband has his designated daddy-time, I focus on painting with calm colors… and channeling a peaceful moment.

ATWN: What does your average day in the studio look like?

KO: 9:15am  Make a big ol’ mug of Earl Grey tea, drop off kids at Preschool.

9:45am  Tie on an apron, crank up some dance music, and pick up where I left off.

I work on about 5 paintings at a time.. each at different stages. One will get an undercoat, another will need a layer of fabric arranged and adhered. I need several hours of drying time between layers - so having multiple paintings in the works keeps me busy. If I’m starting a new piece, I dig through my iPhoto, select a landscape, and begin with a pencil sketch.

12:15 pm  Clean up, wash brushes, race to pick up the kids.

8:00pm   When possible, I work on marketing, inventory, framing, social media, website, and business stuff in the evening.

ATWN: What are your goals as an artist?

KO: To live what I love, to support myself as an artist, to find inspiration, make art, and share my ideas.

ATWN: How do you enjoy your spare time?

KO: Every morning, when my 3year old daughter crawls into bed, she asks, “What mission are we going on?”  And then I have less than 5 seconds to come up with something fun before she starts jumping on the bed. We like to go walking through the woods at the very end of Fort Johnson Road (my favorite view of Charleston Harbor) tooting around downtown, stop in at our favorite playgrounds, or get messy at the beach or in our backyard.

Then, at the end of the day, after tubbies, jimmy-jams, and beddy-byes, I crash on the couch, timber-style, and laugh very hard because it feels like midnight, but the clock says 8pm.  And my husband pats my shoulder and says, “There, there,” because we miss going out on the town like we once did, but are so grateful for our full lives with very little time to spare.

ATWN: What do you take away from being a CSA artist?

KO: I feel like I just completed a full solo show.  It’s a collection that will never be on exhibit together for anyone but me.  I lined up all 46 paintings and enjoyed a private showing.  Then I picked out my favorite 32 paintings and wrapped them up for CSA.

ATWN: What do you like to listen to in your studio?

KO: Crazy Dance Music.  Usually a mix of Chromeo, Daft Punk, anything Michael Jackson, Motown, electronic, techno, house music, neo-disco.  I’ve had 1, no 2, roommates who were DJs and shared studio space with turntables - so I like loud dance music and enjoy turning a Tuesday morning art-session into a dance party.  My neighbors must think I’m nuts.

ATWN: Can you describe a single habit that you strongly believe contributes to your success?

KO: Community.  My success is because I cultivated relationships with gallery owners, artists, art students, art teachers, designers, town leaders, and art lovers.  I met many through working at an art supply store when I first moved to town and didn’t know a soul. I say: Accept invitations.  Show up to openings. Offer to help your art friends - hang a show, tend bar,  help photograph, organize a group critique -  Love and support your peer artists near and far.  Support your local galleries and artists and they will support you back.


Karin Olah is one of the 2015 Spring season artists.



Chris Nickels is the only CSA artist working with digital media. Co-founder Ann Simmons had a chance to ask the Spring share artist about what brought him to Charleston, how he began working with digital media, his future goals/secret ambition, and more.

AS: How would you describe your work in 3 words?

CN: Conceptual, Interpretive, Fun

AS: You began your formal art training in painting and photography. how did you become interested in digital illustration and when did you begin using it as your primary means of creation?

CN: The transition to digital for me, happened piece by piece, not all at once. Early on in college I still wanted to be a fine artist, a painter, rather than an illustrator. I thought that I would go to school for Illustration and apply those skills to being a fine artist. Which, don’t get me wrong, is totally possible, that’s just not what happened. I kind of kept two faces during school - there were my drawings and paintings and there was my digital work. I still felt like there were things that I could only achieve using traditional media. All that changed when I had a really great digital illustration professor, John Forester. He taught us Photoshop from the ground up and really opened the doors to making a whole new kind of work for me. A lot of my work is still made with traditional media, and that will probably never change, its just always translated into a digital space.

AS: You grew up in Athens, GA, and then studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design before moving to Charleston in 2013. What brought you here? Did the change in your surroundings significantly impact your work?

CN: Initially I planned on coming to Charleston for just three months to teach art classes at Redux for the summer. After the summer I moved back to Athens for about six months to try and decide what city I wanted to move to. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I had such a blast in Charleston that I should just move back. I would say that the cities of Savannah and Charleston have have had a large impact on my work, even beyond just visual inspiration. It’s really easy to live a very balanced life style down here, and that always makes it easier to stay motivated and follow your goals.

AS: Being an illustrator means that much of the work you create is commissioned to accompany a written piece or for commercial purposes. How much do the pieces you do for magazine, authors, etc. affect your personal work?

CN: This one’s really got me thinking - it’s a really good question. So far many of the projects I’ve taken on have been really easy to personalize, to the point where I don’t really make a distinction between those illustrations and my personal work. I feel really lucky thinking about it. I’ve also been really lucky to have worked with some really great art directors, which has added up to some really great feedback on my work. Their feedback is something that I definitely carry over into my personal work.

AS: When most people think of illustrators they think of books. Have you ever illustrated a book? If not, would you like to?

CN: I would reaalllly like to work on a book. But not so much a children’s book, or at least a traditional children’s book. One of my dream projects would be creating illustrations for a compilation of short stories, where I would create a couple images per story. I’ve had a few projects like that for magazines but it would be neat to do it for a book.

AS: Did you always know you were going to be a working artist? Did you come from a home where that was encouraged?

CN:  I always loved to draw but I remember as a little kid thinking that I was terrible at it. Other kids in my class could draw a spot on copy of the Berenstain Bears and I couldn’t. I remember being pretty upset about it. It wasn’t until high school that I started taking it seriously. By junior year it was pretty clear, at least in retrospect, that art is what I wanted to do. Senior year I decided that I wanted to go to SCAD and started working to try and make that happen. My family has been really supportive all the way through, not that they weren’t all nervous about it, because they were, and probably still are, but they were always encouraging.

AS: What is the most indispensable item(s) in your studio?

CN: Right now its my Muji pen and a stack of computer paper. But I also couldn’t do without some coffee and my scanner/computer.

AS: What has been the greatest joy for you as an artist?

CN: Trying to make lasting work. Looking back on my work from a few years ago it’s pretty easy to see how much I’ve grown and all of my older work seems unsuccessful. But when you hit on something real, you don’t really discard it no matter how many years go by or how much you’ve changed as an artist.

AS: What are you looking forward to as an artist in the near future? Are there long-term goals you’re working toward?

CN: More commissioned work. I’m really looking forward to the chance to work with more art directors, authors, and reporters. That’s definitely the main goal on my radar right now.

AS: Can you share a secret ambition?

CN: Opening a sandwich shop. Don’t steal my idea.


Chris Nickels is one of the 2015 Spring season artists.