Arts | April 17th, 2023

Art Communities in Tallahassee Provide a Safe Haven

By: Kayla Butler
Art Communities in Tallahassee Provide a Safe Haven

Actor Wendell Pierce once said that “our thoughts are to the individual as our art is to the community.” Art has the ability to express one’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences. It brings people together on social media, at museums, concerts, and so many other spaces.

Art communities are important because it puts you in a space with like-minded individuals that can help you connect deeper with your own self and craft. It may help you improve your work and make connections, but more importantly, it can foster genuine bonds.

Some people tend to have more difficulty finding a community, especially minorities and queer people.

Like many other fields, black people can lack the same level of representation within art-based careers. For example, the Association of Art Museum Directors conducted a study in 2018 that found African American museum curators with leadership roles only made up 4%.

Building Your Own Seat at the Table

This lack of diversity can be true of galleries and other art avenues, but more people have been able to create their own spaces and join one another. Teylor Parks, a 2020 FAMU graduate is no different.

Breathe in Color is an art and wellness-based business that was established by Teylor Parks, with the actual physical studio opening in January 2023. The Breathe in Color studio serves as both a marketplace and an event space. It is also the home of Parks’ pole classes, High-Frequency Friday, and Trap n Paint events.

Something that is special about this space is Parks’ openness to collaboration with the community. Parks knows how it feels to have ideas without the actual space or opportunities to bring them to fruition, so she opens the studio to people that want to put together workshops and events.

When planning events, Parks enjoys meditating and envisioning what she wants the event or space to look and feel like. She evaluates what she can do but also seeks collaboration from her peers to bring things together.

“Community is super important to me,” Parks said. “I’m a multi-hyphenate, but I can’t do everything. That’s why it’s so important for us to rely on the skill sets and experiences of the people throughout our community.”

Collective Unity

Community allows you to tap into your own strengths and weaknesses and seek support in areas you may lack. This is especially true for collectives that work together on creative projects.

Tally Blk Artist Collective was started by co-founders Lani Daes, an FSU graduate, and Jayden Patterson, a FAMU Junior. Together, along with their team, they provide a space for the black and queer artists of Tallahassee to gather, share ideas, and promote one another. The collective is able to pull from different talents and ideas.

For instance, Kimasia Ayers, a Florida State University senior and the Community Outreach/Wellness co-collaborator for the Collective is currently working on a lunar release event that will take place on May 5. Her background in spirituality and wellness allows her to develop what other people in her community may need.

The Collective host’s weekly gatherings on Friday at The Plant, a community DIY creative space. In February, they hosted weekly Black History art nights to highlight the ideologies of Black revolutionaries. It featured the arts while educating.

Sid Brown, an FSU graduate, and a co-collaborator, believes events and spaces like these are important because it uplifts, unifies, and educates others.

“Specifically, having art spaces for black people in itself is radical because art is a way to express all the feelings you may not have the words to express,” said Sid Brown. “I think also whenever there is shared space among black people there is a chance for us to recognize our similarities and our struggles. Part of the process of resisting oppression is being able to collectively call out what we are all experiencing.”

Growing as an Artist

An artist, Brittney Bella, was able to perform at a recent Tally Blk Artist Collective held called “The Block” where they sold zines and showcased artists such as herself.

Bella has also been a part of Voices Poetry Group, an on-campus FAMU organization for poets since the fall of 2019. Although the group is centered around poetry, it is home to artists of many mediums such as painting, producing, and rapping.

“Being in Voices really shaped my entire college experience because I feel like I didn’t really have any friends that got me until I joined,” Bella said. “I really don’t think if I wasn’t in Voices I would have actually chased my dreams, started releasing music, and become the performer that I am.”

These communities are actively changing the lives of artists and art lovers. With Tallahassee being the site of prominent colleges, it is important that people are able to find these kinds of spaces away from home.