In 2011 The Hangout, in association with the Coastal Arts Center (formerly Orange Beach Arts Center), sponsored a public art competition for visual arts students throughout the Southeast. College and university students were encouraged to focus on overall artistic quality, conceptualization and innovative use of materials to create large scale public art. Earlier this year, the $3000 stipend was awarded to Agnes Scott studio arts major, Belinda Hart, for her proposal entitled “When I Visit your Home”.
Hart is passionate about raising awareness of ‘the threat to ocean life and creating a lasting connection for the viewer between common items of plastic and refuse and the need to dispose of them responsibly.’ Her approach is one of subtle aesthetics rather than ‘in your face activism’ and she has learned to allow ‘the material to teach her about itself, what it can and cannot do, and the scope of its possibility’ rather than trying ‘to force the materials to become completely unrecognizable as trash’. This sculpture will be her largest to date and has become the focus of one of her senior classes. Her past work explored these materials on a small scale and the beauty she evokes from a simple plastic water bottle is striking. She states, “My goal is to draw the viewer in before they realize they are seeing trash and allow them to have their own personal interaction with each piece by suggesting possibilities they might relate to from their own experience.”
Nell Ruby, Hart’s major professor and advisor and Chair of the Art Department at Agnes Scott, describes Hart and the Hangout Competition as follows, “Sometimes you get a student who only needs a witness and permission. Belinda is that kind of student. She’s got a good idea, a disciplined work ethic, and energy a go-go. When students can incorporate real live projects into their schooling, they get the best of all worlds: support and recognition that what they are pursuing theoretically actually pans out into practice.”
The Hangout’s support of the arts crosses the spectrum from schoolchildren to rock stars. The Hangout Public Art Competition, in its first year, allows committed and passionate artist the opportunity to step out of the university arena and onto a grand stage, motivating and energizing her to expand the articulation of her creative vision. In fact, just as Hart allows the recyclable material teach her about its scope of possibility, this competition allows her to examine the scope of her own possibility.
“We think this is a wonderful opportunity for young artists with initiative. As an annual competition, we envision this event (as well as the Emerging Artists Exhibit) becoming highly competitive. We are very fortunate to have progressive minded businesses such as The Hangout who see the importance of public/private art initiatives” Juli Jordan, Visiting Artists and Special Exhibits, Coastal Arts Center.
Last year The Hangout became the presenting sponsor of the third annual Emerging Artists Exhibit at the Coastal Arts Center allowing the arts center to double the total monetary awards available to chosen artists. To learn more about the Coastal Arts Center and Belinda Hart’s upcycling work visit www.orangebeachartcenter.com or call 251.981.2787. To learn more about The Hangout visit the website at www.hangoutal.com.