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.
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

About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist. For his weekly #tuesdayhistory tidbits on Asheville, follow him on Instagram @tcalder.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.