News Blog

March Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight is a monthly highlight of the work, process and artists featured in the Office of Cultural Affair’s Public Art Registry.  The Public Art Atlanta National Registry serves as the preferred list for soliciting artists for major and minor public art commissions and direct purchases of artworks for the City of Atlanta, while also serving as a qualified professional Public Artist list for additional commissioning agencies.  Currently the Registry boasts full portfolios and resumes of over 300 professional public artists and is dedicated to expanding the scope of public artwork in Atlanta.

This month’s artist spotlight is Martha Whittington


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MARTHA WHITTINGTON (Atlanta, Georgia) received her B.F.A. in Sculpture from the Kansas City Art Institute. She received her M.F.A. in Sculpture from Tyler School of Art. She has been the recipient of artist residencies at the Bemis Center in Omaha, Nebraska, Hambidge Center-Creative Arts in Rabun Gap, Georgia, and Go Elsewhere in Greensboro, North Carolina. She has been awarded grants from the NEA funded Southern Constellation Fellow, Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia (WAP), Office of Cultural Affairs Atlanta, Idea Capital Atlanta, Dashboard Coop Atlanta, and Austin Green. She has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally with shows at Moot Gallery, Hong Kong, Dans Kamera Istanbul, Turkey, Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville Florida, Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia, and the AMOA-Laguna Gloria Austin Texas. Her work is held in the collections of Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia, Savannah College of Art and Design Susan Bridges, Lavona Stringer Currie, Ree Kaneko, Marianne Lambert, Annette Cone Skelton. Whittington is a Professor of Foundation Studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design.


Interview with Martha Whittington |

Let’s start off with who you are and what type of work do you do?

My constructed environments speak to the experience of the human spirit as it faces, in naiveté and innocence, the harshness and treachery of life and labor.  This exploration has now evolved into a cultural chronicle as related to modernity.  By recreating the history of significant objects and ideas such as manual tools, antique devices, and life experiences of laborers, I build an immersive experience.  This new view of life and labor asks the audience to re-examine concepts, archetypal associations and connotations. The eye encounters familiar objects, which become unfamiliar and thought provoking when executed in unexpected materials.


What types of research or experiences influence your artistic process the most?

I am not an artist with a mission or a vision other than to create. My endless making is more a calling from within than a mission. I am inspired by objects: ascribed circle, a cotton rope, a piece of worn leather, an old phonograph: these all can become a vision or a way to fulfill a vision. I am inspired by events: a construction company clear cut the forested acreage behind my home to build bungalows. The sound of the bulldozers and watching a grey fox run down the street inspired a series of metaphorical, non-representational work centered on destruction, reconstruction and restructuring.

What role does art funding have for you as an artist, and in which ways do you believe art has an impact on the public?

It is difficult to advance work that is expensive to produce without financial support. The benefit to the public is in the viewing, but also in noting the contemporary parallel to the global community.  The intent is for the audience to understand that art can be objectively fine yet always transmits a story, a concept or a message whether literal or metaphorical.


Taking a look at your work, it seems that public consideration plays a major role on not only the make-up of a piece, but also in the outcomes.  Can you touch on the importance that public engagement and communal connections have in your work?

Dialog with the audience is essential to my work.  I seek to educate as well as expose the audience to fine art as a means of concept generation, and hopes to activate an examination of both local and global parallels.


You have an upcoming exhibition at SECCA. Can you tell us a little more about the project?

 Collective Actions is a group exhibition curated by Cora Fisher that focuses on collectivity as art. The show informs questions of ecology and sustainability, work and play, accessibility and social action, public and private experience. My work Deus Ex Machina was exhibited in dialog with the Industries for the Blind to talk about the importance of the hand in work.


What other projects or exhibitions do you have planned in the coming year that you are really excited about?

I have three exciting projects in the works. This summer I will be exhibiting Exchange an installation of wall and free-standing sculptural objects depicting the absorption and subtle elimination of a native culture through assimilation and economic manipulation.  This project received funding by the OCA Artist Project Grant. I’m thrilled to be collaborating with composer Rae Long on a multimedia opera, and a gallery installation that bridges private and public space with sound and object.

View more of Martha’s work by visiting her website. View all of the work from the artists in our registry by visiting the Registry Page.