There is something uniquely special about art and the way one individual can take away something entirely different than the next.
For the art sold through the Nashville Artist Collective – an online gallery featuring the work of local artists – the message is clear, however: help yourself and your community.
“We all have to get in there and do our part and get our hands dirty,” said Rowanne McKnight, the curator for the gallery, which donates 5 percent of its sales to a different charity every two months.
For January and February, the chosen charity is Girls Inc., an international organization devoted to inspiring girls facing hardships through a combination of mentoring and special events.
So far, the gallery has raised nearly $600 for the organization, although it hasn’t been doing it alone.
“One of the other things that is helpful, as I build a business for these artists, is to collaborate with the community, partners and brands,” McKnight said. “We had the idea to have an event at Draper James, which is obviously Reese Witherspoon’s store.”
Since the store already sells original art in the store and has partnered with Girls Inc. since 2015, McKnight thought it would be a great idea for a collaboration.
“We feel passionate about Girls Inc. as well, and that way Girls Inc. is getting sort of a double-kiss donation,” she said. “That part of it is just appealing to me as well. I think it is a win-win for the community cause.”
The art sold through the gallery is provided by a group of eight artists, although McKnight said that number will probably reach 15 by next year.
Each artist ranges in his or her experience, some fresh out of college and others decade-long painters.
“I look for someone who is going to provide balance with the other artists in our group,” she said. “Also, it has to be someone who is maybe emerging in their commercial side, someone who is really ready to produce a lot of work.”
Each new period also has a new theme for the artists to work around; for instance, the current theme is La Vie Est Belle - Life is Beautiful.
“The themes are easy to work with, and we discuss them before so it is something that all of us have input on,” said artist Trevor Mikula, who has been working with the gallery since it opened this past year. “I have been a full time artist for nearly 15 years, so flying by the seat of your pants has kind of become normal.”
Additionally, McKnight said she looks for someone with a heart for service, which was part of the draw for Mikula.
“We as a society should always strive to love and care for our neighbors better,” he said. “I have come to realize that we can never fully grasp what other people are going through at any particular moment and it is important to live life as giving and caring human beings.”
It is an important thing to remember, which, according to McKnight, the art can help with.
“The arts have always been a vehicle for communication and community and culture and for what is going on at the time. It has a way of helping people find meaning.”
Art can be purchased through the gallery at http://nashville.artistcollectives.org.