By MADELINE SCHINDLER
The Gray Cottage has a new resident for the month of August.
As part of Newnan Art Rez, artist Jane Ingram Allen and her husband, Timothy, will be living and working in downtown Newnan for the remainder of this month.
Newnan Art Rez is a program that allows artists to stay in the Gray Cottage, a renovated historic bungalow located on Clark Street, and focus on their creative medium. During their stay, the artist interacts and engages with the local community.
Allen specializes in environmental art, using natural materials and paper made from plant waste materials.
“We are very honored to have Jane and her husband, Tim, living in the Gray Cottage this month,” said Bette Hickman, member of the Newnan Art Rez board of directors. “The amazing art installation she is creating for our community will be revealed soon.”
Originally from Alabama, Allen is well-traveled and has received invitations to participate in artist residency projects around the world, with awards from the U.S., the Philippines, Japan, Nepal, Brazil, Tanzania, Indonesia, China and Taiwan.
Since arriving in Newnan, Allen has dedicated her time to creating an “eco-quilt” – handmade paper stitched together to create a quilt.
“I decided to make a house quilt because Newnan is known as ‘The City of Homes’,” Allen said. “It’ll be on a queen sized ‘bed’ next to the museum. Overtime the quilt will dissolve and wildflowers will grow out of it.”
Allen explained that all of the materials in the quilt are derived from nature and she carefully selects seeds of wildflowers that are indigenous to the area.
The process of creating the paper is quite similar to creating paper mache.
The artist collects bark from native trees and boils the treebark in a large enamel pot. She then carefully transfers the boiled plant remnants to a blender. Once the bark has been ground up to create a pulp, Allen adds a natural dye to the pulp and dilutes it with water and sprinkles in the wildflower seeds. The mixture is then sifted on a screen and spread on a cloth until it dries and creates a paper.
“It’s quite a process to put together one square,” Allen said. “It’s a little unusual, but I really wanted to make a quilt with a pattern of an antebellum house.”
As Allen works, Tim takes photos of the progress and updates the artist’s blog. The two work as a team to create and document each piece.
For this installation, Allen has opened the doors of the Gray Cottage to the community and invited locals to see her work and even help make some of the paper.
“Hopefully more people will come. I think people may be kind of shy because they don’t know what artists are doing,” Allen said. “I would really like to have local participation in it so people will take ownership.”
Children, families, and the local Master Gardeners have stopped by to contribute to the art installation. The artist says she will continue to invite people in until the piece is ready to be moved to the children’s museum, located at the corner of College Street and Temple Avenue.
The dedication ceremony for the Newnan Eco-Quilt will be held on Aug. 31 at 6 p.m. at the ChildrenConnect Museum. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
For more information about Allen and her work, visit https://janeingramallen.wordpress.com