Court Room Sessions: An Unwrapping
In the landscape of offerings hosted by The Arts Council of Martin County, perhaps none is quite as unique or striking as The Court Room Sessions Exhibitions. The first exhibit ran from August 19 through September 1st, 2017. The latest edition opened August 4th of this year and will run through August 31st.
Featuring an eclectic array of pieces from local and regional artists, both exhibitions have carried the air of cutting edge visual art and offer a glimpse into approaches not as readily seen in Martin County. Perhaps, even more striking, have been the opening receptions of each show. In addition to the stellar artwork, the evenings have included live music as well as local vendors and have draw an audience as diverse the show itself.
“It has been such a shot of energy to our local art’s offerings,” shared Arts Council Board member Robert Ankrom. “I have visited so many other cities that have held these sort of shows and it has been so great to see that something like this is truly needed and valued.”
Courtroom Sessions is the brainchild of Arts Council Communication Coordinator Elise Raffa. In her fourth year with the Council, Elise has already made her mark as a creative and thoughtful liaison in spreading the mission and name recognition of the Council, but this newest contribution truly ups the ante considerably. Born in Miami, Elise has made Martin County home for the past 17 years, but brings to the table an impressive background in arts – this eye and her ability to pull ideas together have served her well in the conceiving and coordinating of Court Room Sessions.
We took the opportunity of this latest success to get to know Elise – and the idea behind Courtroom Sessions – a bit better.
Share a bit of detail about your artistic background.
I studied studio art with a concentration in photography at Florida Atlantic University and graduated with my BFA in 2013. I was nominated in 2013 as Best of New Times Broward/Palm Beach “Best Visual Artist” and was awarded PDN’s Emerging Photographer in 2014. I’ve also had my work displayed on the side of a skyscraper in NYC as well has being featured on Vogue Italia’s website a handful of times.
What, in your mind, is Court Room Sessions all about?
Striving to break the norm of familiar arts and music within the community. Court Room Sessions seeks to provide a counterculture experience to those who attend.
Obviously, the idea of these sort of focused art exhibit/happenings isn’t a new thing, but what made you feel the time was right for something like Court Room Sessions in Martin County?
The summer doldrums are real, especially in Martin County. Living here year-round, most of us tend to loathe these months because its unbearably hot and there is almost nothing going on around here. When I found out there was open time in the galleries last August, it seemed only fitting that the time was right to host Court Room Sessions.
Did you find that you had any trouble pitching the idea of the first CS to Nancy or was the idea met with fairly open arms?
Thankfully it was met with open arms despite the fact no one really knew what to expect.
Had the Arts Council here ever hosted a exhibit that was anywhere similar to what you envisioned?
Actually, yes. When I was first introduced to the Arts Council, it was by invitation to be a featured artist for the first installment of a bi-monthly event called, The Lounge Series, which essentially was a one-night pop-up show dedicated to showcasing work of young and emerging artists/musicians in our area. I eventually was invited to co-host these events and we did them for about a year.
Looking back on the first CS – what aspect made you the proudest?
There was such an undeniable energy and buzz during the opening night- faces and ages of all backgrounds were in attendance, making connections and having fun. I find at times there can be a bit of a divide between the generations within this community, and I loved that the arts brought us all together.
The first CS to be such a positive addition to the Arts Council’s offerings – not only because of the interesting range of artists involved, but because of the great spread of folks that were attracted to attend. Why, specifically, do you feel this sort of event is important for Arts in Martin County?
It builds a stronger sense of community through something new and exciting that any age, race, gender, ethnicity can relate to.
Your adoration of the band Radiohead is pretty widely known. What is it about their artistry that speaks to you and do you reflect on ways to bring that same passion and love for arts to your Martin County’s arts scene?
I’ll start by saying that there are not many bands circa the late 1980s that can sell out four nights at Madison Square Garden under an hour in 2018. As a band, Radiohead have always gone to the beat of their own drum, regardless of popular/mainstream trends and in doing so, they’ve been able to continually redefine themselves with each album and pave their own way – fans new and old have always followed because they’ve always given us a new experience with something different.
Taking the ‘Radiohead approach’ and applying it in terms of the arts scene for Martin County, I think now, more than ever, it’s important to do something different and continue down that path. New experiences like Court Room Sessions create new audiences, new connections, new growth – all of which are necessary for a vibrant and thriving arts community.
With the obvious successes of both CS exhibits, have you played with any ideas of other additions to events the Arts Council might host?
Before the birth of Court Room Sessions, I had toyed around with a few event ideas that ranged anywhere from short films with live DJs to interactive graffiti competitions; all of which are still on the table. It is exciting to think about the future of these sort of shows – especially with the overwhelming interest shown to The Courtroom Session Exhibits. Here is hoping that Elise and The Arts Council continue pushing the envelope and looking for new ways to surprise all of us.
Photos in gallery taken by Liz McKinley