Inspiro Arts Alliance offers artists the opportunity to be mentored by a high caliber artist in their discipline. One such Artist Mentor is Geinene Carson, who has also served as an Artist in Residence at the Incarnate training program. Read below to learn more about Geinene's story!
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. My foundation in visual art originated from a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Sculpture earned from William Carey College. I furthered my art studies at Lacoste School for the Arts in France and by living and working in Vienna, Austria for several years. My opportunities to travel extensively internationally throughout Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East have contributed to further richness in artistic style as well as breadth of experience. I have both created and exhibited art internationally in places such as Turkey, Morocco, The Netherlands, Italy, and in my current city of residence: Atlanta, GA (USA). Though not originally from Atlanta, I have resided in the city for many years, using my home studio as a platform to connect with the world around me.
When I’m not in my studio, I strive to be a very present wife, mother of two, and an advocate for using the arts as a bridge between peoples and cultures. I founded and directed the visual arts department at OM in which I organized, recruited, and led multiple groups of international artists on cross-cultural art-making excursions. I now serve as a consultant and continue to act upon my belief in the importance of artists being accessible by engaging a variety of audiences through exhibitions, blog writing, and teaching on a global level.
2. Tell us about your art – what is your primary discipline, and what are you currently working on?
I consider myself an Expressionist creating vivid works of art, primarily painting and mixed media, which embody my personal intersection of art, faith, and life. Though my work has varied over the course of my career, I have begun to focus on neuron-centric subject matter and creative advocacy connecting with a variety of communities in the realm of rare disease, neuroscience, and mental health.
This current body of work originated from my wrestling with the reality of my daughter’s rare genetic disorder, Phelan-McDermid Syndrome (also known as 22q13). I was immersed in the daily battle of her condition manifesting in the form of developmental delay, limited mobility, and absence of speech among other things. I desired to grasp my daughter’s condition in greater depth which led me to study the life of neurons and neurogenesis, the brain’s amazing ability to re-circuit around inflicted damage; and through it, I developed new inspiration as an artist and hope as a parent. I never expected to become so intrigued by the complexity and beauty of the human brain.
I am now six years into creating artwork that advocates not only for my daughter but speaks to issues all of us deal with as we navigate a world where suffering, anxiety, depression, and mental health are very tangible matters. We all have parts of our minds untapped and/or in desperate need of restoration, some more visible than others; and no matter our cognitive abilities, our thoughts and surroundings can influence that process positively or negatively. This reality is what my art speaks to, encouraging all of us to intentionally seek out new ways of thinking and living by learning how to express, own, and reclaim our thought life.
3. What is your role with Inspiro and what does it involve?
My role with Inspiro is as an Artist Mentor. This means I strive to cultivate artists and leaders of artists through personal mentorship and coaching. I aim to encourage artists to invest in their God-given talent, also gaining spiritual confidence and intentionality in creatively engaging the world around them. My coming alongside other artists is done in hopes of helping communities of Jesus followers grow in vibrance in their worship and witness.
4. How have you served at Incarnate in the past?
The very first year of Incarnate, I served as the Visual Arts Mentor in residence, living within the community for the duration of the program. The following years, I have served as a visiting teacher and ongoing Arts mentor/coach being fully available but from a distance, not living onsite.
5. Do you have a favorite memory of serving as an Artist Mentor/at Incarnate that you would share?
Artists who attend Incarnate come from a variety of backgrounds, art training, and experience. Some have had the opportunity to pursue their craft in an educational setting, others by personal apprenticeship or being self-taught. Whatever the circumstance, it is widely common that most have had an insufficient amount of positive and productive feedback on their art, especially within a Christian context. The ones who have are, unfortunately, rare. That is why Incarnate has thoughtfully included teaching on how to give and receive critique and feedback.
I have memories of many artists coming to the initial art share extremely nervous. There is excitement in the air to have the opportunity to share with a group who authentically desires to learn about each artist and what they create, but also great apprehension of the unpredictable response. My favorite memories of Incarnate involve seeing the individual artists, and the collective, change their whole attitude towards this time. For those that have had negative experiences previously, it is redeeming to have others engage in a positive way and sincerely encourage your skill to grow without any hidden competition. For others who haven't had much of a platform to even talk about their work, it is the chance to grow in their ability of putting words to what they create by gentle practice. The first critique and feedback times often begin awkwardly quiet with the expectation that they may even end early. However, once over the hump, this time becomes one of the most fruitful with a visible change in the demeanor of many - turning artists from timid and apologetic, to bold and engaging. By the end of the program, after many critique sessions spent together, the artists began to unexpectedly look forward to the time together, filling it with lively interaction and an eager display of their art developing stronger. It soon becomes evident that relationship and community are taking root and the critique and feedback session will inevitably run over the scheduled time.
6. Why should an artist consider Incarnate?
As a young artist who felt the call to cross-cultural missions myself, I struggled at the time to find anyone modeling, or even understanding of, this unusual type of vocation. Incarnate creates a unique space for an artist to thoughtfully invest in his/her personal spiritual growth, while simultaneously pursuing their God-given artistic talents. And, instead of having to do this on their own, it is stimulated in meaningful community of like-minded and passionate people encouraging and sharing the same deep conviction. If you are an artist prayerfully considering a call to serve, then Incarnate can offer you the opportunity to begin that journey - growing in experience and practice of working cross-culturally, collaborating with artists of various genres, and boldly stepping out to engage the world with a supportive tribe of fellow creatives alongside you.
A Sampling of Geinene's Art
"Flares in Fog"
"Shelter in Place"
"Relation of Roots"