Artistry: Executive director, Culture Candy
The paper always stretched beyond her small toddler arms and legs when Rodneyna Hart’s mother would sit her down in the middle of a large white sheet of it, armed only with a scattering of markers or paints.
Some of Hart’s earliest memories are born from this flashpoint of encouragement and opportunity. Her arts-supporting mother, a jewelry designer and sewer, and her father, a bricklayer and musician, would let their self-described “weird art kid” make something new daily. Sometimes that meant giving young Rodneyna the ability to create things, quite literally, all around her.
She carries that experience into her work today.
“I’m a maximalist,” says the energetic artist who curates quarterly art shows at The Healthcare Gallery. Most recently, she began leading the spirited resurrection
of two local arts institutions of yore: Culture Candy, a 501(c)3 artists database, calendar and resources hub online, and Stabbed in the Art, a monthly pop-up exhibit of fresh local work by a large and eclectic batch of creatives. Both had their heyday a decade ago, but Hart has polished them up in hopes of building a better-informed, encouraged and interconnected arts community.
“I do believe we can do everything—over time and with proper funding, planning and logistics,” says the LSU studio art alum, her boundless enthusiasm spooned out with doses of determined practicality. “And why create something completely new when there were these great things in the past that worked, that are known, and are so very necessary.”
Access, Hart says, is the key to a thriving arts culture, and she hopes to use these outlets to set artists down on a large sheet of paper, so to speak—their own blank canvas with the tools to create and collaborate.
“Culture Candy is an opportunity provider for artists just getting their footing or anyone trying to identify within what the creative part of themselves really is,” Hart says. “That’s just an important part of being a well-rounded person.”
Hart’s ideas flow fast from arts scavenger hunts and collaboration exercises to speakeasy events for judgment-free self expression. She suggests never tempering ideas or wild bursts of thought even if it seems there’s never enough time in the day for them.
“As long as you’re working toward something existing, whatever the pace, that’s so positive,” Hart says. “And that progress is the most important thing.”