Beth Flora Gunn joined our Artist Collective in February 2016. Originally from Massachusetts, Beth holds a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College. Beth is a survivor of sexual violence and trafficking, which contributed to her experiencing homelessness upon arriving to Nashville in October 2015. As an artist with POVA, she has been a part of several projects around Nashville, such as the “Off the Wall Tapestry Quilt Project”, the Nashville Chalk Festival, and two juried art shows at St. George's. Since joining the program, she has acquired temporary housing with another artist in the collective and obtained part time work. Beth likes fine art because it ties in all of her interests (such as literature and religion) and connects different aspects of her life in a way that words cannot. One of the most beneficial things she has learned about visual/tactile arts since joining the program is that they allow space for illuminating in a way that is gentle and safe. According to Beth, the entire idea behind Poverty and the Arts is that it “creates possibility, and we are a part of it.”
“The art has given me agency, as well as delight. Since working in the visual and tactile arts in earnest, I see the world in a new way, in a better light.”
Personal Goal: To grow my skills in painting, illustrating, embroidery, clothing design, and quilting, as well as develop ideas for graphic novels and children's books.
Read an interview with Beth HERE.
When I started doing visual art, I started seeing the world for the first time instead of feeling like I was being watched or that everyone was looking at me. I’m a human sex trafficking survivor and a domestic violence survivor. Something heinous happened to me in 2013. Right now I’m working on this rag doll, which is giving me perspective on objectification, especially of women. This doll helps me to remember my body and myself as alive.”
“I don’t believe I was seen as a person of agency, that I had an opinion, or experience, or even that I had an inner life, a life of the mind. So it makes me feel like a person of value and worth to see the thoughts from my head come to fruition in a visual and tactile sense, in something I can hold in my hand. I’ve done a lot of stitching and re-stitching on her, which is actually what rag dolls are for, in part: to work on your work. They’re easy to mend. Endlessly creating, endlessly created.”
POVA sponsored Beth’s participation in CornertoCorner’s 10-week Business Entrepreneur Academy where she graduated in November 2016. During the program, she learned skills to help her grow her artisan and artistic business.