June 04, 2015
Ellen Falkner '95 was inspired by CIA's focus on socially engaged art
By Alyssa Brown
Ellen (Weiss) Falkner ’95 has long admired Equamore, a rescue sanctuary for abused or neglected horses near her home in Ashland, Oregon. She also admired Community Works: Artist as Social Agent, CIA’s year-long series that included exhibitions, visiting artists, an academic conference and new courses all focused on socially engaged art.
Taking inspiration from Community Works, Falkner organized an art fair to benefit the horse sanctuary.
“I wanted to use my reputation and contacts as a local public works artist to organize an event that would use ‘the power of art’ to create an annual event attracting and introducing new donors to Equamore, and at the same time give local artists a new venue outside of our usual gallery and craft fair models,” Falkner said.
Artists for Equamore was a free event on May 31, “in the green space at the farm, surrounded by the horses in the pastures and in the outdoor stalls.” Activities included an art sale of original work by more than 20 local artists, live music from Falkner’s favorite local band, locally made wines and snacks and, of course, “hobnobbing with the horses.”
Inspired by an article in CIA’s Link magazine, Falkner decided to contact artist friends and reach out to the Ashland Art Center for other interested local participants. Artists donated 20% of their profits from the day to Equamore, and everything else – from the refreshments to the music – was donated.
Falkner credits her CIA education with preparing her for coordinating such an event.
“CIA gave me an incredibly valuable technical and art history education,” she said. “In addition, instructors introduced me to both the notion of subversive art and the idea of art as a way for bringing about social consciousness.”
In its first year, Falkner said the event ran smoothly and she has hopes for a second run next year, in part, thanks to her love for art and Equamore.
“After a successful career as a graphic designer and home furnishings photo stylist – and not unimportantly, as a full-time mom of three for the last twenty years as well – I am grateful for the opportunity to use my art and my art connections to help improve the lives of these special unsung creatures, and to bring more art to the public in a unique way.”
Above, Falkner and her artwork at the benefit she organized.
Alyssa Brown is a marketing intern at CIA.
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