By Matt Cosper
May 30, 2019
Pie is messy to make, but in Grace Stott’s experience, that mess is a surefire method for cultivating creative friendships. Newly returned to Charlotte in 2016, Stott was a little discouraged by the prospect of finding a community to belong to and make work with. “ I decided the best way to meet people was to organize something,” Stott said.
This focus on connecting with like-minded people, coupled with an urge to liven up the local arts scene, resulted in Cherry Pie: A Feminist Art Show, Stott’s first foray into curating in Charlotte. Focused on the question “What does feminist art look like?” Cherry Pie was a creative success and served as Stott’s calling card, opening the door to new opportunities and friendships. In the years since, Stott has created a vast body of genre-defying material that blends ceramics and painting with a darkly whimsical vision. Stott considers herself first and foremost an artist, with her curatorial practice taking center stage only when she feels truly compelled to put together a show. In March of 2017, she followed up Cherry Pie with Apple Pie: An American Art Show. Teaming up with a bevy of co-curators, Stott presented Apple Pie at Goodyear Arts’ College Street incarnation to interrogate and explore American identity.
Identity has been at the core of the Pie shows, with the concerns and experiences of women as the central issue. Cherry Pie was framed simply as a “Feminist Art Show” and Apple Pie contextualized that feminism in relation to America. With Peach Pie, Stott (along with regular co-curator Melody Rood) has selected a group of women and femme artists who have the badge of Southerness stitched somehow into their identity. Stott credits Rood’s strong academic background with providing the theoretical foundation for the shows, which puts Stott in the position of connector. She reaches out to artists to solicit work, offers constructive criticism throughout the process of creation and then applies her own critical eye to the task of organizing and hanging the show. Stott thinks of this as creating a collage of sorts for gallery guests to encounter. It’s this element of the curatorial process that Stott finds most creative, saying “the fun thing is the arranging; saying ‘well if this one goes next to this one it tells a different story depending on what you have around it, and the order in which they are relating to one another. It’s about taking a bunch of things and creating new relationships between them.”
For Peach Pie, this entails finding a way for the work of 42 artists to be in conversation with each other about what it means to live and work in (or to have escaped from, or long for) the South. These artists work in mediums ranging from photography and painting to sculpture and performance, with a few other harder to define mediums thrown in for good measure. Artists in the show include local stalwarts Rebecca Henderson, Lydia Bittner-Baird and Alexandra Loesser-Schoen. There is a strong contingent of Goodyear Arts-affiliated artists including Holly Keogh, Amy Bagwell, Amy Herman, Hnin Nie, Renee Cloud and Deb Koo. Charlotte ex-pats living and working in other cities who have work in the show include April Marten and Taylor Williams. It’s an impressive lineup of artists, featuring work from some of the region’s best.
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An opening reception for Peach Pie will be held on Friday, June 7 from 6-9 p.m. at Goodyear Arts. There will be performances by artists in the show, as well as refreshments sponsored by Birdsong Brewing, Lenny Boy Brewing and Bold Missy. Milk Glass Pie (seriously the best pie on the planet) will have a pop up shop at the event and Chef Julia Simon of Nourish will be creating a large scale (and edible) hummus painting that evening.