My Name is Rebecca Bourne Graham. I am an Artist, a Teacher, and a wife and mother of two crazy kids. I live in Markham, located in Fauquier County, Virginia, where I recently moved back into the mid-1800s farmhouse that I grew up in, and that has been in my family ever since it was built. In my daily life, while I live in the country and deal with all of the interesting things that an old family home and country life provide, I commute a short distance to the suburbs of Washington DC where I teach Art and Art History to high school students in Haymarket, VA.
Over the past few years of living this life as a “Glam Pioneer” (coined by my besties) I have noticed that my Artistic needs are not being met. I find myself putting my own creative passions to the side simply because taking care of a two and a five year old and trying to keep up with my job leave me exhausted at the end of each day when I would normally retreat to my studio and crank out some meaningful artwork. Thus, I am unable to carve out the time for my own artistic endeavors. I think that there is and has always been something inside of me that feels the need to make a larger impact on my local community. And that, my friends, is where the Climb 365 application and initiative has come in and motivated me to really think beyond my daily routine and strive to be more, because I know that I can and will one day make a bigger impact on this world around me. In essence, the Climb 365 program is going to be a great way to rock my world, and hopefully allow me to rock the world of those around me.
My goal is to begin a two part Art Business. I would initially like to create my own business similar to the “Wine and Painting” classes that are quickly growing in popularity these days. I would however, like to expand on that idea by making a program where Art and Art Production could be accessible to all seekers. I would like to have adult classes, but also children’s programs and intergenerational family programs that will inspire the average person to dabble in the arts. This business could but doesn’t necessarily require me to obtain a building or space in which I will host the classes and events. I envision being able to take this concept to local vineyards and wineries, community centers, or churches where I could rent space, but also to individual people’s homes where they might want to host an “art party”. These “Wine and Painting” programs could serve as a relaxed, non-threatening way for non-artists to learn about and pursue artistic endeavors that they might otherwise be nervous to do. This will also help me to learn about this demographic of the population and I can use the knowledge I gain from this experience in order to tailor the educational programs in the Art Center that I would like to create in the second part of my goal.
The second half of my goal is where this all gets a little bigger, and a little trickier to pull off, but this is where I will make much more of a difference in my local community. As I said before, in my daily life out here in rural Virginia, I have noticed and felt the need for some sort of connection not only to my own Art but to that of other Artists’ as well. As part of my teaching career, I am a professor through Virginia Commonwealth University’s Graduate Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies Program. Through this program I teach graduate level painting classes to Art teachers, as well as practicing artists in the field. Every time I teach one of my courses, the students and I inevitably state that we all wish we could continue beyond the structure of the college semester. We all agree that it is so exciting to have time specifically to work and interact with and critique other artists, and lament the fact that there is no forum with which to do this out in our area. My goal is to create an Art Center that will do just this.
I want to find a space and create an Art Center that not only will provide the much needed haven for these artists but also provide a similar access to art for the non-artist who just wants to learn more. Without incorporated towns and flowing tax dollars, there isn’t a convenient outlet for this for miles around. I envision creating a building that has studio spaces for artists to rent, as well as classroom spaces for education, and a gallery space for art exhibitions. The individual studio spaces will be open to the public so that the artists can share their work and creativity with anyone who wants to see it. The classrooms will provide space for educational programs for all types of groups from senior citizens, to supplemental programing for the local public school system, to home-school students, or even preschool programs. They will also be where I can host the “Wine and Art” classes and events for local groups and citizens interested in a relaxing and fun night learning about art. The gallery space within the building will not only host exhibitions and celebrations of what the artists and students within the center have created, but it will also provide a space for any artist to apply for juried exhibitions and solo exhibitions in order to promote their own work.
I know this is lofty, but once my Art Center takes off, I can envision, down the road, hosting guest Artists and speakers, or organizing bus trips for local people to go to Art Museums in DC, Philadelphia, New York, and beyond. I would also love to keep one of the studio space rentals open and possibly free for art teachers in the public school system who are just looking for a space to work on nights, weekends, and over the summer. I can even envision educational programming based out of the center that could involve groups that travel to national or international locations for classes. An example of this could be a 2 week or month long plein air painting class in San Miguel, Mexico, or in the Southwest of the United States… the possibilities are endless.
I am completely passionate about Art and would like to make it accessible to anyone. I truly believe that by creating an Art Center like this I would not only be supporting my fellow artists, as well as future artists but I would be adding a level of culture and enrichment to my local community and beyond. Come with me on my journey while I see if my dream can actually be realized!