Ginny Taylor on #OccupiedWarren

Lit Youngstown’s intern Josh Naumann asked Lit Youngstown board member Ginny Taylor about her upcoming visual-literary art collaboration with #OccupiedWarren.

JN: When is the event, and what time during the day?

JT: #OccupiedWarren is a 2-day temporary art exhibit in Warren’s Garden District, June 8 (5-7pm) and June 9 (12-5pm).  The project is hosted by Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership (TNP) and the Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County (FACT). What’s really interesting about this exhibit is that the art is themed around blight, abandonment, and revitalization, and it’s being displayed in an abandoned, non-salvageable house that will be demolished in the future along with any of the art created on the walls or within the rooms.

So some of the art will be transient, some will probably be removed. The timing of this event also coincides with the Warren Art Hop which is happening on Saturday, June 9, so Warren will be alive with art this weekend!

What kind of art will be at the event? Paintings, sculptures, a mix of everything?

Yes! The artists are free to choose whatever medium they want. Some of the art will be painted on the walls. Other pieces will be sculpted into and out of the walls. Other pieces are free standing. My work focuses on mixed media art journaling, which I’m creating on sketchbook paper and on some of the ceiling tiles from the house. The exhibit is really going to be quite diverse, interesting, eclectic, and exciting.

Will the art reflect on life in the Warren area, or is there a broader range?

I believe the art will reflect what’s happening in Warren, but by extension the Rust Belt area which includes the Mahoning Valley. The topics of blight, population loss, industry and job loss, and how we transition from what we once knew into what we might become as a culture and society are universal themes. The project is also modeled to some extent on the highly successful Rooms to Let: CLE produced by the Slavic Village Community Development Corporation. What’s unique about #occupiedwarren is that there is a theme of blight to revitalization.

I remember you said the house has been long abandoned; is there a history behind that house?

I don’t know the history of the home, other than at some point, it was remodeled into apartments, so there’s a kitchen on the second floor. From some of the papers organizer James Shuttic salvaged from the house (and I’ll use in my work), it’s evident that people who lived there paid bills, read newspapers, wrapped children’s birthday gifts, liked Currier and Ives calendars. Pretty normal everyday people living their lives like everyone else.

What is something you want the event to express to those who visit?

While I can’t speak for what other artists are doing because it’s going to be a surprise when we all see how each of us has interpreted the house and the theme, I want the event to express hope. That despite really trying times for our area, we as a community are in the process of a transition, moving from what we once were into what is now emerging. And the arts and small businesses are helping to create this new renaissance for Warren.

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