East Macon's pending Mill Hill renaissance will get a boost this summer with artists from New York and Chicago.
Wednesday morning, the Macon Arts Alliance announced the first two artists who will be living in the Fort Hawkins neighborhood from July to October as part of an inaugural two-year project.
Samantha Hill, of Chicago, brings history to life through multimedia presentations and exhibits. She will be staying in Macon while the old Bibb Mill auditorium is renovated to anchor the East Macon Arts Village.
Ed Woodham, who uses visual and performance art to reclaim public spaces in New York City, also will be living in a renovated mill cottage from mid-summer to mid-fall.
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The Mill Hill Visiting Artist Program will use the artists' expertise to collaborate with local residents on how to boost the once-thriving community off Main Street near the Macon Coliseum.
Jonathan Harwell-Dye, director of creative placemaking at Macon Arts Alliance, said Hill and Woodham were selected "because of their experience creating socially engaged art on a neighborhood scale in communities throughout the U.S. and the world."
Hill said in a release that she was looking forward to developing projects reflecting the neighborhood's cultural aspirations.
"One of my goals as an artist is to develop engaging projects with communities about regional histories and culture," said Hill, who has won multiple awards for her sculpting.
Woodham, who founded the Art in Odd Places concept during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta when he directed the arts center 800 East, continues that work through a fall festival on 14th Street in Manhattan.
The performance artist and puppeteer uses humor, irony and striking visual styles to engage people in urban environments.
Woodham said in the release that he is thrilled to return to Georgia.
"I look forward to getting to know the residents of Fort Hawkins and the Macon arts community," he said.
Those involved in the project also are excited about how these artists will be able draw in local residents.
"Through the program, these new artists will help to bring a new perspective to community building in Macon, allowing residents to play a bigger part in transforming their neighborhood and investing in its future," said Beverly Blake, program director of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Macon.
Kathryn Dennis, president of the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, expressed excitement that the village project is coming to life.
"The current residents and the visiting artists will increase the vibrancy as they live, work and play together," she said.
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-0303 and follow her on Twitter@liz_lines.