Jason Koon Staff Writer
On Saturday, the Old School Studio (TOSS) will conclude a summer of arts activities and summer camps with an art festival in downtown Morganton.
The festival, which will be held from 4pm to 7pm in the farmers market on Wednesdays at the intersection of North Green Street and Avery Avenue, will feature food, activities, improvisational games and artwork for sale. TOSS founder Kathryn Ervin said she hopes planning the festival to coincide with the State of Origin Craft Brew Festival will make it part of a larger community-wide city gathering on Saturday.
“The home state is just around the corner, so I hope people jump back and forth between Fonta and the courthouse lawn,” he said.
The centerpiece of the event will be an exhibition created by Residence artist Zak Foster who worked with TOSS campers over the summer.
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“The campers had so much fun this year,” Ervin said. “We have explored really complex topics through art … art is a powerful channel for self-discovery and I am so proud of the work that has been done this summer.”
During the four weeks of the summer camp, 90 local students explored career paths through art, creating over 450 overall projects according to Ervin.
“Babies are so extraordinarily absorbent. They will take an idea and internalize it and then the result will be something very special and unique, “she said.” It was really interesting to see how they brought the concepts to life. “
Foster agrees, saying he was inspired by his experience working with children at TOSS.
“Kids know what they like in a way that adults don’t,” Foster said. “There was no quibble, no hesitation, they just tried and jumped right in. This was really inspiring for me.”
For Foster, the TOSS camps were the first experience of teaching sewing to children.
“I didn’t know how well they would actually be able to sew,” she said. “I enlisted the help of some friends who had worked with children in the past with sewing and they gave me good advice and good projects.”
Foster is a quilter that makes memory quilts for people who have lost loved ones.
“When someone dies, the family will send me some clothes and I’ll make a quilt out of them,” he said.
At the TOSS Art Party, Foster will exhibit a piece called “Afterlife”, which is a series of quilts created to breathe new life into old discarded fabrics.
“(They) capture his interpretation of circularity,” Ervin said. “It is the founding principle of material return, a social enterprise that gives new life to the disused fabric”.
Foster said that one of his guiding principles in life and art is “to live as light as possible on earth”.
“For me this means not buying a lot of new things to create my work, trying to work with the resources that already exist around me to make these quilts,” she said. “In this sense, my values are quite in line with those of TOSS.”
Foster said he visited Opportunity Threads in Morganton on his first day of residency. He was inspired by the process they use and the leftovers not used in the process.
“Their system is that people will send them t-shirts, cut a giant square from the front and what is left over will be recycled,” he said. “It was those leftovers that I found really interesting. They were like frames; they were like windows through which one could look.
Foster transformed those “frames” along with some foundation fabrics repurposed in TOSS in his project.
“I tried to arrange them in such a way that it looked a little bit alive,” he said. “Everything in the project has been recovered or repurposed.”
Ervin said having an artist in residence is a rare opportunity for a rural community, but he believes it can allow his organization to foster community conversations on important topics such as, in this case, reuse and sustainability.
“A resident artist is an incredible opportunity for a maker to develop a creative project based on a particular theme,” he said. “In a small rural community we need forums for civil dialogue like this where we can all come together.”
In addition to the art exhibitions, TOSS students will also sell works they created over the summer.
Food will be provided by Timberwoods, Mom’s Egg Rolls, and Super Ice Cream. Camp families will receive four free food tickets. Anyone can buy food and all other TOSS Summer Art Party activities are free.
Jason Koon is a staff writer and can be reached at [email protected]