Fun, fun, and more fun! It was a warm, sunshiny day in Northport, Alabama, a Saturday morning, when I arrived outside of the festival. I noticed that crowd of people, from toddlers to elders, were anxious to witness the beauty of Kentuck. The excitement dawned on me as I handed over my ticket and proceeded to enter the gates of many brilliant talents.
As I walked into the festival, I immediately sensed creative energy. The Kentuck Festival of Arts was filled with many artsy activities and fun crafts. I took a deep breath and the aroma of delicious fried treats swept through my nostrils, while the soft rock music mellowed through my eardrums. Memories of the fair spiraled through my mind as I reminisced. At once, I knew that I would have the time of my life. There was art, food, music and artists all in the same place.
I walked through the tree-filled festival as the shade shielded me from the dazzling rays of the sun. The immense rows of white tents were alphabetically arranged with artists who were electrified to present their inventive, indigenous art to onlookers. I glanced at every art station in sight in attempt to take in all of the aesthetic art forms that surrounded me. (There were more than 270 artists at the festival.) Many of the artists were professional and kind, while others were obviously exhausted and a little bit antisocial. For the most part, I conversed with and listened to a lot of welcoming artists. The categorically organized art forms varied from wood, glass and metal to wire mesh, clay, natural materials, and musical instruments.
I visited quite a few artists during my Kentuck adventure. One of which, was Bonnie Shanas of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, a beautiful woman of elegance, talent, and aptitude. She had a smile so big and bright that she could lighten up a dark soul. Shanas is a wire-mesh sculptor who has been creating glorious, mind-blowing sculptures for ten years. Her sculptures showed dancers during their poised, swift movements and glimpses of women in their most intimate and sensual moments.
During our interview, she explained how she was inspired by people, mainly dancers, and by their behavior, expressions and gestures. Furthermore, she talked about how movement inspires her to go home and create a magnificent, spontaneous, and aboriginal sculpture. Every day and everywhere, she constantly observes people and their motion. By this action, Shanas allows herself to perceive the world around her as a masterpiece or a work of expressive art. This creates a globe of walking art and new sources of inspiration.
Just a few tents down from Ms. Shanas on the dirt path was Syed Ahmed of Salisbury, North Carolina, an artist who captures the fluid motions in warm glass on copper. At first, he admitted, he began making jewelry instead of paintings because it was much safer. After getting comfortable, Ahmed ventured off to the wild, unpremeditated side of art. He began making paintings out of glass, allowing himself to be guided by the patterns of the shapes, colors, and figures. He was a humble man who lived life on the edge, while simultaneously and carefully planning and moving with the flow of his art’s lead.
After stopping by Mr. Ahmed’s tent, I wondered around the festival some more. I passed the crowded poetry recital, the quilt making stand, and the tie-dye table, only to have my consciousness grasped once again. I came to a complete halt and glared in total shock!
In near sight, I saw this amazing art piece of a beautiful flower made of colorful zippers. I could not believe my eyes. I mean, the piece must have taken at least a month to finish. I peeked my head into the tent, because I could not pass up the chance to meet the dedicated and patient creator of this zipper art.
When I walked into the tent, I was almost instantly welcomed by Janet Petrell. She explained how she was inspired by her mother’s zipper artwork and had been creating three dimensional paintings from zippers for more than five years. During that time, Petrell had been diagnosed with stage two cancer. As a result, she began making her zipper art more and more frequently. Although she excelled in her art courses in high school and college, Petrell was eager to help find a cure for cancer, so she went on to a career in clinical research. Her experiences of being a clinical researcher are figuratively portrayed in her mesmerizingly beautiful pieces. Her story touched me, and it still leaves me speechless when I think about it.
As I walked around the festival, scanning the different activities, I thought, Hmmm, there’s face painting, quilting, poetry reading, guitar lessons, flute lessons, violin lessons, tie-dye shirts, pottery . . . I was indecisive. I stopped and turned in circles, like a lost puppy. Before I knew it, I was drawn towards the food trucks.
Hypnotized by the sweet smells, I decided to treat myself to a tasty, crispy, powdery funnel cake. I sat at the black bench, next to my friends in the wide field and devoured my greasy, finger-licking, crunchy dessert. I socialized with my creative writing buddies, and we laughed as we stuffed our faces. After I chewed up my funnel cake, my friend offered me a chili cheese fry. I hopped up anxiously, grabbed it, and ate it. When were done eating, we all decided to go make tie-dye scarfs — on our way to the tie dye table, we were chased by bees — so we made our bandannas, then we went to experiment at the instrument station. We attempted to play the violin, the flute and the guitar.
This adventure was coming to an end and soon we left for Montgomery. On the way back, I sat in the car and watched the trees sway in the wind as we quickly passed through the green lights. I reflected on the memories that had just been made and came to the realization that Kentuck is more than just an art showcase— it is a place where people gather together to be inspired and tell their unique stories. It is a place where every artist dances, sings, writes, and paints to the rhythm of their own beat.