SOIL SERIES is creating Community Studio and Bird Closet
3

patrons

$65
per month
Hello and thank you for visiting our Patreon! We are Francesca Fiore and Hillary Wagner, founding artists of SOIL SERIES: A Social Drawing and we hope you will take the chance to get acquainted with our project via our website: http://soilseriesbethel.com. If you're just learning about SOIL SERIES, welcome! Below is a brief description of our project and what we need from you in order to keep running our free art programming for the residents of Bethel, OH.

What is SOIL SERIES?

SOIL SERIES: A Social Drawing is a collaborative work of art and an ongoing conversation between artists Francesca Fiore and Hillary Wagner and the rural Appalachian community of Bethel, OH. A dynamic set of relationships between artists, community members, and local organizations, SOIL SERIES is a drawing in the most expansive sense. As it creates the conditions for new conversations and relationships within the community and without, each new connection becomes a dynamic line in a relational web. This relational web, or social drawing, is the generative engine for community-initiated social change.

We began SOIL SERIES in June of 2017 after receiving our graduate degrees in fine arts from Parsons The New School for Design. As the presidential election in the fall of 2016 caused tensions to flare across the country, we began an ongoing dialogue which illuminated points of intersection and departure between our disparate lived experiences: Francesca as the descendent of Italian immigrants in the New York metropolitan area, and Hillary as the descendent of generational Clermont County farmers. These conversations proved especially valuable against the backdrop of national tumult, and we found common ground in our shared belief in art’s capacity to promote empathy and engender new possibilities. 

In particular, we became interested in how we might use thoughtful artistic practice to engage Hillary's hometown of Bethel, OH, which is experiencing a staggering opioid epidemic, widespread food insecurity, and the erosion of cultural and economic opportunity. We were especially concerned about an emergency operating levy on the ballot for Bethel’s local school district. Finding itself in a precarious financial situation, the Bethel-Tate district was forced to confront the possibility of deep budget cuts if the increase in tax funding was not passed. The proposed cuts threatened arts programming, gifted education, and student transportation, among other services. Hillary felt the urgency of the situation, knowing from her own experience growing up in Bethel the scarcity of cultural and intellectual opportunities. Although the levy ultimately passed by a narrow margin of 28 votes (the stopgap measure is only expected to sustain the district until 2022), we were spurred to action and in June of 2017 we relocated to Bethel to initiate SOIL SERIES.

Community Studio

Community Studio is a free public art program we developed in partnership Empower Youth, a local non-profit organization dedicated to partnering with children “in hopes of instilling in them the confidence and resources needed to break through the chains of generational poverty.” Since 2015 Empower Youth's food bags and mentorship programming have provided vital resources for Bethel's at-risk youth, and our Community Studio Program now extends the organization's mission to include new pathways to cultural resources as well.

Our arrival in Bethel coincided with Empower Youth's acquisition of a 15-acre former horse ranch. In April of 2017, a local bank, Community Savings, gifted Empower Youth the foreclosed property, and The Empower Youth Ranch (or EY Ranch) has since become home to the organization's operations and an active community hub. When we arrived in Bethel in June, Empower Youth's directors, Lori and Scott Conley, generously offered us space in one of the property's barns for our proposed programming. Over the course of the next month and a half and with the help of Empower Youth's network of hard-working volunteers and interns, we created the Barn Studio. The images below show the amazing transformation:



The Barn Studio, now the site of our Community Studio Program, is a safe space for exploring new ideas in the heart of Bethel. The program, which had its first session in the summer of 2017, offers local residents a dedicated time and site for creativity. We believe everyone is an artist and our Community Studio participants are encouraged to consider themselves artists regardless of background or training. Through guided projects and prompts Community Studio artists are invited to investigate place through making. 

The concept for this summer’s session is focused on finding ways to connect participants to local history and tradition. Each week we will provide a profile of a Bethel (or area) resident who is creative in some way – a portrait of a local person and how they make something. Our goal is to offer a survey of possibilities and options for how to be a creative person in Bethel – especially a creative person whose making is in dialogue with the place and its rich traditions. Out of the encounter with each new person, we will facilitate projects that will be carried out using a variety of materials to help participants connect more deeply to their home, their identity, and to one another.

Learn more about our Community Studio Program by visiting our website, and be sure to check out our post about the inaugural Community Studio Exhibition we held at the Empower Youth Ranch in October.

Bird Closet

Bird Closet is a collective of young artists that developed organically from the relationships established as part of SOIL SERIES. During our renovation of the Barn Studio we had the chance to work closely with a group of amazing teenagers who were working at Empower Youth through a summer internship program. In the past year the group has become like a little family, and at the beginning of this summer we started making art together as a collective.

In Bird Closet, teens who have played integral roles in the evolution of SOIL SERIES become artists in their own right, working in horizontal collaboration to create works that excavate Bethel’s past and use this history as material for the creation of a new future. Bird Closet is distinguished by its playful, prankish nature, with output ranging from collages and billboards to bird masks, alter egos, and a rich self-mythology. By conjuring an alternative universe, Bird Closet creates a parallel space in which the artists are free to pursue creative and social projects that may seem otherwise untenable in the world as it exists. Far from escapist, the works of Bird Closet are meant to intervene on material reality and inspire similar explorations by other residents of the area and beyond.

You can read Bird Closet's self-published zine, Fraxinus, here: https://www.birdcloset.com/fraxinus. We are also thrilled to announce Bird Closet's first solo exhibition at the Schnormeier Gallery at Mount Vernon University. Details below:

Bird Closet
Schnormeier Gallery, Mount Vernon Nazarene University
August 27th - September 28th, 2018
Reception: September 7th, 6 - 9pm


How can you help? Become a patron of a Community Studio/Bird Closet artist!

Although we received generous in-kind contributions from friends and supporters during the renovation of the Barn Studio and the first session of the Community Studio Program, much of the funding for the project thus far has come out of our own pockets. We were happy to provide the initial funding to kickstart the project, but we now need a sustainable funding strategy that matches our commitment to long-term change in Bethel. Although we have concluded the 2018 Community Studio session, we are still in need of funds and supplies for our upcoming Bird Closet exhibition and to help us defray the costs of our programming this summer! We need a group of generous individuals to become patrons of our incredible artists. A small monthly contribution on your part will go a long way toward providing our artists the resources they need. Below are images from Community Studio 2017. On behalf of the Community Studio and Bird Closet artists, we thank you for your time and support!

  
 

Tiers
Day Patron
$1 or more per month 1 patron
Congratulations! You are now a Day Patron for one of our Community Studio or Bird Closet artists! Your contribution will help us pay for the materials needed for an artist's one-time participation. Thank you for your support! 


You will receive access to our special patron-only updates about our programming :)

Half Patron
$5 or more per month 0 patrons
Thanks so much for your contribution! You are now a Half Patron for one of our Community Studio or Bird Closet artists! Your contribution will help us pay for the materials needed for one artist to participate in half of one of our programs. You're awesome! 


You will receive access to our special patron-only updates about our programs and a handwritten thank-you note from a participating artist :)

Full Patron
$10 or more per month 0 patrons
Wow! You are now a Full Patron for one of our Community Studio or Bird Closet artists! Your contribution will help us pay for the materials needed for one artist to participate fully in one of our programs. We really appreciate your generosity! 


You will receive access to our special patron-only updates about our programs, a handwritten thank-you note from a participating artist, and a signed original drawing by a participating artist :)

Double Patron
$20 or more per month 1 patron
You are amazing! You are now a Double Patron, which means your contribution will help us pay for the materials needed for TWO artists to participate fully in one of our programs. We are so grateful for your support! 


You will receive access to our special patron-only updates about our programs, a handwritten thank-you note from a participating artist, and a signed original drawing by a participating artist. You will also have your name featured on our website and exhibition materials throughout 2018 :)

Project Patron
$50 or more per month 1 patron
We are blown away! You are now a Project Patron and your contribution will help us provide resources for all of our Community Studio and Bird Closet artists in 2018 as well as help us fund the Bird Closet exhibition. We can't tell you how much this means to us. Thank you for your generous support! 


You will receive access to our special patron-only updates about the our programs, a handwritten thank-you note from a participating artist, and a signed original drawing by a participating artist. You will also have your name featured on our website and exhibition materials and you will receive invitations for a VIP walk-through of the Bird Closet exhbition :)

Goals
$65 of $100 per month
When we reach $100 per month we will be able to provide materials for 10 artists to participate in our 2018 programs!
1 of 3
Hello and thank you for visiting our Patreon! We are Francesca Fiore and Hillary Wagner, founding artists of SOIL SERIES: A Social Drawing and we hope you will take the chance to get acquainted with our project via our website: http://soilseriesbethel.com. If you're just learning about SOIL SERIES, welcome! Below is a brief description of our project and what we need from you in order to keep running our free art programming for the residents of Bethel, OH.

What is SOIL SERIES?

SOIL SERIES: A Social Drawing is a collaborative work of art and an ongoing conversation between artists Francesca Fiore and Hillary Wagner and the rural Appalachian community of Bethel, OH. A dynamic set of relationships between artists, community members, and local organizations, SOIL SERIES is a drawing in the most expansive sense. As it creates the conditions for new conversations and relationships within the community and without, each new connection becomes a dynamic line in a relational web. This relational web, or social drawing, is the generative engine for community-initiated social change.

We began SOIL SERIES in June of 2017 after receiving our graduate degrees in fine arts from Parsons The New School for Design. As the presidential election in the fall of 2016 caused tensions to flare across the country, we began an ongoing dialogue which illuminated points of intersection and departure between our disparate lived experiences: Francesca as the descendent of Italian immigrants in the New York metropolitan area, and Hillary as the descendent of generational Clermont County farmers. These conversations proved especially valuable against the backdrop of national tumult, and we found common ground in our shared belief in art’s capacity to promote empathy and engender new possibilities. 

In particular, we became interested in how we might use thoughtful artistic practice to engage Hillary's hometown of Bethel, OH, which is experiencing a staggering opioid epidemic, widespread food insecurity, and the erosion of cultural and economic opportunity. We were especially concerned about an emergency operating levy on the ballot for Bethel’s local school district. Finding itself in a precarious financial situation, the Bethel-Tate district was forced to confront the possibility of deep budget cuts if the increase in tax funding was not passed. The proposed cuts threatened arts programming, gifted education, and student transportation, among other services. Hillary felt the urgency of the situation, knowing from her own experience growing up in Bethel the scarcity of cultural and intellectual opportunities. Although the levy ultimately passed by a narrow margin of 28 votes (the stopgap measure is only expected to sustain the district until 2022), we were spurred to action and in June of 2017 we relocated to Bethel to initiate SOIL SERIES.

Community Studio

Community Studio is a free public art program we developed in partnership Empower Youth, a local non-profit organization dedicated to partnering with children “in hopes of instilling in them the confidence and resources needed to break through the chains of generational poverty.” Since 2015 Empower Youth's food bags and mentorship programming have provided vital resources for Bethel's at-risk youth, and our Community Studio Program now extends the organization's mission to include new pathways to cultural resources as well.

Our arrival in Bethel coincided with Empower Youth's acquisition of a 15-acre former horse ranch. In April of 2017, a local bank, Community Savings, gifted Empower Youth the foreclosed property, and The Empower Youth Ranch (or EY Ranch) has since become home to the organization's operations and an active community hub. When we arrived in Bethel in June, Empower Youth's directors, Lori and Scott Conley, generously offered us space in one of the property's barns for our proposed programming. Over the course of the next month and a half and with the help of Empower Youth's network of hard-working volunteers and interns, we created the Barn Studio. The images below show the amazing transformation:



The Barn Studio, now the site of our Community Studio Program, is a safe space for exploring new ideas in the heart of Bethel. The program, which had its first session in the summer of 2017, offers local residents a dedicated time and site for creativity. We believe everyone is an artist and our Community Studio participants are encouraged to consider themselves artists regardless of background or training. Through guided projects and prompts Community Studio artists are invited to investigate place through making. 

The concept for this summer’s session is focused on finding ways to connect participants to local history and tradition. Each week we will provide a profile of a Bethel (or area) resident who is creative in some way – a portrait of a local person and how they make something. Our goal is to offer a survey of possibilities and options for how to be a creative person in Bethel – especially a creative person whose making is in dialogue with the place and its rich traditions. Out of the encounter with each new person, we will facilitate projects that will be carried out using a variety of materials to help participants connect more deeply to their home, their identity, and to one another.

Learn more about our Community Studio Program by visiting our website, and be sure to check out our post about the inaugural Community Studio Exhibition we held at the Empower Youth Ranch in October.

Bird Closet

Bird Closet is a collective of young artists that developed organically from the relationships established as part of SOIL SERIES. During our renovation of the Barn Studio we had the chance to work closely with a group of amazing teenagers who were working at Empower Youth through a summer internship program. In the past year the group has become like a little family, and at the beginning of this summer we started making art together as a collective.

In Bird Closet, teens who have played integral roles in the evolution of SOIL SERIES become artists in their own right, working in horizontal collaboration to create works that excavate Bethel’s past and use this history as material for the creation of a new future. Bird Closet is distinguished by its playful, prankish nature, with output ranging from collages and billboards to bird masks, alter egos, and a rich self-mythology. By conjuring an alternative universe, Bird Closet creates a parallel space in which the artists are free to pursue creative and social projects that may seem otherwise untenable in the world as it exists. Far from escapist, the works of Bird Closet are meant to intervene on material reality and inspire similar explorations by other residents of the area and beyond.

You can read Bird Closet's self-published zine, Fraxinus, here: https://www.birdcloset.com/fraxinus. We are also thrilled to announce Bird Closet's first solo exhibition at the Schnormeier Gallery at Mount Vernon University. Details below:

Bird Closet
Schnormeier Gallery, Mount Vernon Nazarene University
August 27th - September 28th, 2018
Reception: September 7th, 6 - 9pm


How can you help? Become a patron of a Community Studio/Bird Closet artist!

Although we received generous in-kind contributions from friends and supporters during the renovation of the Barn Studio and the first session of the Community Studio Program, much of the funding for the project thus far has come out of our own pockets. We were happy to provide the initial funding to kickstart the project, but we now need a sustainable funding strategy that matches our commitment to long-term change in Bethel. Although we have concluded the 2018 Community Studio session, we are still in need of funds and supplies for our upcoming Bird Closet exhibition and to help us defray the costs of our programming this summer! We need a group of generous individuals to become patrons of our incredible artists. A small monthly contribution on your part will go a long way toward providing our artists the resources they need. Below are images from Community Studio 2017. On behalf of the Community Studio and Bird Closet artists, we thank you for your time and support!

  
 

Recent posts by SOIL SERIES

Tiers
Day Patron
$1 or more per month 1 patron
Congratulations! You are now a Day Patron for one of our Community Studio or Bird Closet artists! Your contribution will help us pay for the materials needed for an artist's one-time participation. Thank you for your support! 


You will receive access to our special patron-only updates about our programming :)

Half Patron
$5 or more per month 0 patrons
Thanks so much for your contribution! You are now a Half Patron for one of our Community Studio or Bird Closet artists! Your contribution will help us pay for the materials needed for one artist to participate in half of one of our programs. You're awesome! 


You will receive access to our special patron-only updates about our programs and a handwritten thank-you note from a participating artist :)

Full Patron
$10 or more per month 0 patrons
Wow! You are now a Full Patron for one of our Community Studio or Bird Closet artists! Your contribution will help us pay for the materials needed for one artist to participate fully in one of our programs. We really appreciate your generosity! 


You will receive access to our special patron-only updates about our programs, a handwritten thank-you note from a participating artist, and a signed original drawing by a participating artist :)

Double Patron
$20 or more per month 1 patron
You are amazing! You are now a Double Patron, which means your contribution will help us pay for the materials needed for TWO artists to participate fully in one of our programs. We are so grateful for your support! 


You will receive access to our special patron-only updates about our programs, a handwritten thank-you note from a participating artist, and a signed original drawing by a participating artist. You will also have your name featured on our website and exhibition materials throughout 2018 :)

Project Patron
$50 or more per month 1 patron
We are blown away! You are now a Project Patron and your contribution will help us provide resources for all of our Community Studio and Bird Closet artists in 2018 as well as help us fund the Bird Closet exhibition. We can't tell you how much this means to us. Thank you for your generous support! 


You will receive access to our special patron-only updates about the our programs, a handwritten thank-you note from a participating artist, and a signed original drawing by a participating artist. You will also have your name featured on our website and exhibition materials and you will receive invitations for a VIP walk-through of the Bird Closet exhbition :)