Asheville Art Talk: Jenny Pickens brings the world together

AS ONE: Asheville-based artist Jenny Pickens says her latest mural is a response to worldwide strife. Photo by Thomas Calder

If you’ve driven through the River Arts District in recent weeks, you may have noticed the latest mural adorning Pink Dog Creative’s ever-changing shipping container. Titled “Zolas Embrace (peaceful earth),” the work was designed by Asheville-based artist Jenny Pickens.

Pickens’ creation is part of Pink Dog Creative’s ongoing effort to build a stronger connection between the RAD and neighboring Southside community — of which Pickens is a former resident. For Hedy Fischer, the Pink Dog’s co-owner, inclusivity is the goal, and visibility is a key element to that objective. Future plans for the shipping crate will include an original design created by Southside neighborhood kids, in collaboration with Easel Rider. Diversity among Pink Dog’s own featured artists and shows is also part of the space’s mission.

Pickens appreciates Pink Dog’s objective and speaks to the power of the project’s aim. “I raised my kids [in Southside] for 16 years,” she says. “I know how community involvement is really important.” Residents, Pickens continues, should feel encouraged to participate in and have access to the arts. “You got artists in the community who don’t have outlets or any place to go,” she says. “I think it’s really good that [Pink Dog Creative] decided to do something like this.”

In Fischer’s opinion, Pickens’ work also speaks to a broader issue and need. “In a time of social and political division, Jenny’s proposal of Zola knitting the world back together resonated with us,” she says. “We feel it speaks to the desire in so many of us to heal wounds and create community.”

Pickens agrees. She says violence, homelessness and general hostilities are casting a shadow across the world. “Nobody is getting along,” she says. “There’s no more love. … That’s how I came up with the idea of Mother Earth and just putting love back into the world. That’s what [Mother Earth] is doing [in the mural]. She’s putting the love back; she’s mending it back together.”

WHAT: “Zolas Embrace (peaceful earth)
WHERE: 342-348 Depot St.
WHEN: The mural will be up through the spring or early summer


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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