On the first weekend of October, the Broome County Arts Council (BCAC) hosted its annual Art Trail throughout various parts of the county including Binghamton, Endicott, Johnson City, Vestal, Maine and Whitney Point. This widespread trail featured countless talented artists looking to display their work and gain support from the surrounding community. With 31 different stops, the art trail displayed the creativity and uniqueness each artist upholds through their work. Notably, there was a diverse range of media including but not limited to paintings, mixed media, crochet work, dyed clothing, handwoven towels, jewelry, pottery, metalwork, beading and quilt work. With each stop, artists told a different narrative about their work and the ways that they have come to produce it.
Founder of the shirt company Living & Dying with Intention, Terri Weathers shared her story about becoming an artist and the pathway which led her to her current profession. Weathers started tie-dying in 1988 to supplement her income but stopped after having children. However, she was inspired to start sourcing items, such as bamboo socks, after a retreat festival. She does so now in a more affordable way, paving the road for her inclusive business.
“I was in health care before and I care a lot about helping people,” Weathers said. “So doing things like this has allowed me to make enough money to help myself and also to give back to the community.”
Weathers used her upcycled clothing and devotion to giving back to the community through clothing donations, sustainable practices and affordability.
“I always try to be involved in all of the community events because I really do think that a good chunk of it is about giving back,” Weathers said. “I get a lot of clothes from people to upcycle and so anything that I cannot dye I bring to community centers. Anything that I sell for $10 has been upcycled. I either found it at a thrift store or it was donated to me. More and more people are giving me their old clothing and I turn it around and give it back.”
Weathers’ clothing can be found on the Living & Dying with Intention Facebook page where you can purchase through Shopify. Weathers actively participates in Black business sales, such as through Support Black Business 607 and will also be taking part in the Black Fly Market on Oct. 16.
“It feeds my soul,” Weathers said.
On the note of collaboration and reaching out to people, the owner of Parlor City Arts and the founder of Type of Thing, Rebecca Austin, ‘12, spoke on her intent to connect individuals through her art.
“My main thing is to see people’s reaction — I want people to feel what I feel,” Austin said. “See [how] it reflects on their life because everyone kind of goes through the same stuff no matter what it is. I want people to know they aren’t alone, there are other people out there who feel the same way.”
Austin’s work featured a wide variety of media including metalwork and quilt-based beading. The beading was inspired by her mother and aunts who quilted. She decided to reinvent quilting as a form of abstract art and represent experiences from her personal life. Austin graduated from Binghamton University in 2012 and studied painting afterward, evolving from a two-dimensional focus to metalwork.
For anyone who wants to see an example of one of her pieces, check out the bike rack in front of the Courthouse. Austin has taken part in various community events and hopes to one day do a solo show.
“I hope people come out and support art,” Austin said. “People are being a little bit safer now [with COVID-19] and so I hope things can start ramping up.”
Aaron Rodriguez displayed an alternate mode of art through his graphic and web design skillset. Rodriguez focuses mostly on photography, but experiments with an assortment of techniques such as drawing, sketching, painting and graphic design.
“I like experimenting, doing something different,” Rodriguez said. “Mostly I like to travel around and look to figure out what I might make from what I see.”
To Rodriguez, art symbolizes a passageway into imagination and a way to heal rather than hurt.
“Art is special for everyone because they can just have any type of imagination, if they want to know, want to see and want to make,” Rodriguez said. “You are putting yourself aside from all of the craziness and protecting yourself and others out of harm’s way.”
Rodriguez said he valued the Art Trail and the opportunity to learn from the experiences of different people. The collaborative nature of the Trail seemed to bring each of the artists together reinforcing the value of art and its influence toward motivating oneself. For Rodriguez, the gravity of this concept was prominent.
“Achievement is possible,” Rodriguez said. “It doesn’t matter what class you are, it doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what background you are from.”