The Benwood Blog

Highlighting the people and projects that are working to make Chattanooga great within Benwood’s four focus areas Place, Talent, Advantage and Culture.

Culture

Echoes of Chattanooga’s Early Artistic Heritage

Echoes of Chattanooga’s Early Artistic Heritage

When we think about Chattanooga’s artistic heritage we think back to early performers like blues empress Bessie Smith or you may even know about jazz musician Valaida Snow or more recently actress Dixie Carter, actor Jim Nebors and of course Samuel L Jackson, Dennis Haskins and Usher. And we’ve in previous blogs learned about Chattanooga’s current street scene. We often think of these as recent productions and forget that these build on a long legacy begun here by the Native Americans who once lived on this land.


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Culture

Giving Voice to Others: A wider play for Chattanooga

Giving Voice to Others: A wider play for Chattanooga

Many of the artists I’ve met have talked about a childhood formative experience that first inspired them and this was the case too for actor Christy Gallo. However for Christy, this was not the first step in a progression but a taster that led to self-doubt and leaving the theater behind for lucrative opportunities in business. But when disillusioned by her work world and life in her 20s, she wanted to go beyond the material possessions and find something more fulfilling. In her soul searching she realized that the path to healing could be found in acting and a life in theater.


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Culture Place

Designing Health

Designing Health

A little over a year ago, I was asked by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to be part of a panel discussion at the AIGA Head, Heart, Hand: Design Conference. I shared the stage with Doug Powell from IBM, Matthew Trowbridge, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and George Aye, from Greater Good Studio. Our topic was Designing a Healthier Future for Children, and we were tasked with demonstrating how we used design thinking in our work to improve health on the population level. In the interest of full disclosure, my education is in clinical exercise physiology and not design, so I was a little confused when I got the email asking me if I would like to take part in the conference.


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Culture

Speaking Up, Speaking Out: Christian Collier

Speaking Up, Speaking Out: Christian Collier

"Being an artist means being comfortable with doing everything you can do, as much as you can, and being ok with not being enough." - Christian Collier


Many artists are known for their mastery of a particular form – an artist is a painter, or she is a singer, or they are musicians, or writers or designers or….Some artists though cannot be easily classified as their art is responsive, emotional, all encompassing and takes the form it needs to in order to make a point. Christian Collier is such an artist. He is known as a spoken word artist, a hybrid term in its own right as it encompasses poetry, memoir, storytelling, performing, music, and movement. Add to that a bit of drawing, a good dose of DJing and an enormous amount of skill, thought and feeling and you have the art of Christian Collier.


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Culture

Power-Filled Threads, the Ties that Bind: Ana Martinez

Power-Filled Threads, the Ties that Bind: Ana Martinez

A stray thread brushed off a garment, a thread of an idea, a thread linking two people in our six-degrees-of-separation-community…these are the threads easily torn and inconsequential. But then sometimes a thread is everything - holding fabric from unraveling, linking strands of evidence to solve a mystery, the small link keeping us in close relationships with loved ones. Ana Martinez is a testament to the power of a thread.


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Culture

More than Just a Mark

More than Just a Mark

Ingrained in many of us is a desire to make a mark on the world, whether it is through something created, built or preserved, or through the satisfaction of knowing someone else has been empowered or nurtured through our actions.  For Mark Making,  this isn’t just a lifelong goal but a daily goal as lived out in a color-swathed laboratory. For the staff there, and through the countless lives they touch, their work is not simply a spray of paint on a wall but a much deeper mark of community impact.


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Culture

The Rhythm of Brother Eroc's House

The Rhythm of Brother Eroc's House

The beats move your body, the words touch your soul, the rhythm challenges your mind and the music is totally fresh…welcome to Brother Eroc’s House.


Artists rely on audience, some more than others. Once a painting is hung on a gallery wall, a sculpture is placed in a public square, a cord is strummed from a bar’s make-shift stage, a voice is heard through a microphone, a designer shares a drawing with a client.…everything changes.  The art becomes something new filtered through the mind of the beholder. Some artists can separate art from audience perception, keeping the object or performance pure, but for others, the art form only really comes alive when it is shared and when the audience responds. And that is the joy and the challenge of the art of a DJ.


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Culture

Beautiful Things That Do Something

Beautiful Things That Do Something

Craft vs art (or craft as art), useful vs beautiful (or useful as beautiful), decorative vs practical (or decorative as practical) – these are the questions many debate when defining the prickly “what is art” issue. Seth Toker, however, solved it all with a simple statement - “I create beautiful things that do something.” Not worried about defining it as art or appliance, Seth is just fueled to create the beautiful, the practical and the magical.


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Culture

Dancing it Forward: Monica Ellison

Dancing it Forward: Monica Ellison

In the past, the phrase “ballerina’s body” was used to describe women who were tall, thin, had perfect posture, slight features, long shiny hair pulled into a bun…and milky white skin.  This stereotype has changed over the last few decades, thanks in part to magazine covers like the one shown here from this summer’s Pointe Magazine, but it still looms large in popular culture (think of the movie “Black Swan” or the television show “Bunheads.”)


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Culture

When I Think of Home

When I Think of Home

Echoes of heritage projected through the voice of a 19 year old young woman, generations of Blues Greats singing through a new soul…this is the sound of Zowie Boyd.  To experience Zowie sing is to be transported back to the era of the Blues Greats – as if the spirit of Etta James has delivered us a great gift.  Zowie’s deep involvement in singing began at 11 as a healing touch from her mom,  who shared the voice with her young daughter as a solace of hope and strength during Zowie’s year of painful surgeries.  Once an avid basketball player, Zowie’s days of flying over the court may have ended, but she has found new ways to soar through a voice that uplifts even higher.  Want proof? Check this out.


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  1. Ready....Set....2.0

    by Sarah Morgan

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On Our Minds

Words from Sarah Morgan

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