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Makers Series | Vocation

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Join us in the Fellowship Hall on Friday evening May 11th for the next installment of the Makers Series, an evening focused on the messiness of pursuing a life in the arts. Doors open and refreshments served at 6:30, the conversation begins at 7:00.

How is Making Art also Making a Living?

From design to performance, the arts are nearly inescapable in our daily lives, and we often go so far as to define and judge nations and peoples by the cultural artifacts they make.  Yet for those working in nearly every creative field today--from writing to acting to playing music to making paintings--concepts like "professionalism," "career," and "success" are especially difficult to define, much less maintain.  Even academic degrees and professional certifications do not necessarily provide clear pathways to full-time employment, or act as a guarantee that artists will be able to practice at all. Meanwhile, the line between amateur and professional can be fluid, and the entire structure of valuation and reward for creative work seems arbitrary to artists and non-artists alike.  How do we even know what a "real artist" is? Yet despite these complexities, many (if not most) artists feel that their creative work is the very heart of who they are, and that making art is a central part of their identity, whether or not it is their everyday job.  Our presenters for this edition of the Makers Series include a poet (Allison Seay), a painter (Jim Mott), and a trumpeter (Garret Holland), who are following very different paths in their creative callings, and will give us distinctive insights into the possibilities and pitfalls of pursuing a vocation in the arts.

What is the Makers Series?

The signature program of makeRVA (Third’s collaborative outreach to and through Richmond’s arts communities), each edition of the Makers Series brings together three “makers”—a writer, a visual artist, and a musician—to discuss their history and practice as artists and believers, touching on a unifying theme.  In a coffee house setting with refreshments available throughout, each guest presents for 20 minutes, followed by a moderated conversation between the three and the audience, seeking to find commonalities between each maker’s experiences and to draw out insights about faith, culture, and creativity.



Allison Seay, Poetry

The Iowa Review suggests that Allison Seay’s work “speaks to a simultaneous distrust and love for language” and praises her “ability to give form to ambiguity without showing the outline’s edges.”  Often connecting the spiritual and immanently physical, her work gives the reader both image and narrative, but always points to the edges of what we can know, believe, and even feel. This agrees well with what Allison herself says about the role of poetry in spiritual life, which she explores as the Associate for Religion and the Arts at St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Richmond.  In part by hosting readings for visiting poets and writing the weekly “Wellspring” meditation, Allison helps parishioners (and us) notice the kinship between theology and poetry—the way each is “a way of seeking to open oneself to the transcendent and inexpressible, deepest truths of our lives . . . inviting us to experience what cannot be fully spoken.”

A Richmond native, Allison graduated from Mary Washington College and holds an MFA in poetry from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she was also assistant director of the MFA Program and associate Editor of the Greensboro Review.  She has also taught at Greensboro College and Lynchburg College, and before joining the staff at St. Stephens, spent several years teaching poetry and literature at the Collegiate School.  Allison was Arrington Poet in Residence at the University of Mary Washington, and honors for her writing include fellowships from the Ruth Lilly Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lexi Rudnitsky Prize for her first book of poems, To See the Queen, and publication in over a dozen journals including Crazyhorse, the Southern Review, Pleiades, Gettysburg Review, Field, Image, and Poetry.


Jim Mott, Painting

Jim Mott describes his landscape painting as “part of a contemplative path and a way of making connections. It is a means by which I can explore the interplay of inner and outer worlds, give substance to my appreciation of the things I see around me, and share a sense of interest, meaning, and wonder with other people.”

With degrees in Visual Studies and Religion from Dartmouth, an MFA in Painting from the University of Michigan School of Art and Design, and another BS in Environmental Science from the State University of New York, Brockport, Jim brings multiple intellectual as well as visual perspectives to bear on the landscapes he travels through, studies, and paints.  He has been chosen for multiple individual and groups shows and artist residencies, and is a frequent speaker—particularly around his efforts since 2000 to focus on “socially interactive projects and presentations aimed at extending the creative dialogue and making art a more integral part of other people’s everyday experience.”

Principal among those efforts to connect art with what are now considered “non-traditional” audiences is the Itinerant Artist Project (IAP), built around periodic road trips during which he stays with a series of volunteer hosts - usually strangers - for 2 to 4 days at a time, at each stop making a set of small oil paintings in response to his host’s world, and giving one of the paintings to each host in thanks for the room and board and the time spent together. 

More about the IAP (including a feature on Jim for the Today Show) and images of his work can be found at his website:


Garret Holland, Trumpet

Considering that his mother was a solo concert pianist with the Chicago symphony at age 15 and his father a military musician with the 5th Army band, it was certain that music would be an integral part of Garret’s Holland’s life. Indeed, his mother had him at the piano for 15 minutes a day beginning at age 4, those short sessions laying the foundation for a life-long journey of music performance. 

Garret studied trumpet performance at Oral Roberts University and the University of Central Florida and was performing with Walt Disney World in Orlando in the late 80’s. Teaming up with his father, they created and lead the John Garret Orchestra—an 18-piece big band that performed throughout the central Florida region for almost 14 years.

Since moving to Richmond 15 years ago, Garret has performed full time with KOS Band (Kings of Swing), an 11-piece commercial band performing over 50 concerts and shows per year. On Sunday mornings you will find him on stage at West End Assembly of God playing with the sanctuary Orchestra and performing in all the “Glorious Christmas Nights” and “Masters Plan” shows throughout the holiday season. To round out styles of music, Garret performs multiple concerts throughout the year with a 30-piece classical ensemble, the Richmond Brass Consort. 

Third's Fellowship Hall is located at the north end of the Forest Avenue Campus, directly across the street from Tuckahoe Elementary School.  Parking is available there and in lots behind the Sanctuary at the other end of the building.

Earlier Event: May 6
Student Ministry Dessert Auction
Later Event: May 11
Young Adult Happy Hour