Member Spotlight: Suzi Banks Baum of New Illuminations
by Molaundo Jones, Social Media Specialist at Fractured Atlas
Suzi Banks Baum has been a member of Fractured Atlas for 4 years. Her project New Illuminations is an artist residency in Gyumri, Armenia bringing book arts and personal narrative writing to women artists. By reconnecting artists with the Armenian tradition of hand-bound books, New Illuminations extends care through art making in a community lying far outside the international gaze. It puts art supplies in hands of eager artists and builds a community of makers in a city hobbled by trauma and poverty.
How has Fractured Atlas benefitted your artistic practice?
The primary way Fractured Atlas has benefitted my artistic practice is by freeing up my time. As an artist I want to focus on creating the art and content to bring my project, New Illuminations, into the world — not on the financial side. I am able to develop my project because I don’t have to take the time to process donations, create spreadsheets to track the money, or make my own financial reports. Having Fractured Atlas handle this aspect gives me time to build new connections by presenting at speaking events, leading workshops, and practicing the book arts techniques I teach in Armenia.
How has Fractured Atlas benefitted your income generation?
In Fractured Atlas I found the collaborative partnership I needed to present a professional and trustworthy organization to my potential donors. Fractured Atlas gives my donors a professional doorway, a solid and dependable platform, to give tax-deductible donations. People understand it’s not always possible for independent artists to have their own 501c (3), yet donors appreciate the transparency and structure Fractured Atlas provides in knowing where and how their donations will be used. Each year I fundraise for this program I see an increase in donations and I have heard from donors they have more confidence in my program because of Fractured Atlas.
What specific Fractured Atlas services/programs have you used?
I have used the Fiscal Sponsorship program and the consultation support of Fractured Atlas staff.
Why do you think artists and organizations should become members of Fractured Atlas?
So much of the work we do as artists is in isolation and not focused on the business side. Artists or organizations need services that complement the fine art skills they already have with financial and business knowledge offered by Fractured Atlas. As artists it’s important to think about developing a team to help bring your work to the world. By becoming a member of Fractured Atlas, you’ll never feel alone in your project; you’ll have trusted people to consult with, and a platform to count on.
Do you have any upcoming events that people should know about?
Yes, I have a few! Since returning from my third residency in Gyumri in October 2018, I have sold the first set of hand-bound books made by the advanced artists of New Illuminations. This is a landmark moment for this project, to have contemporary manuscripts seen and appreciated by our wider audience.
Secondly, the first of my 2019 public talks about New Illuminations takes place on Sunday, January 27, at the Elixir Café in Great Barrington, MA at 2 PM. Audiences are always moved by the vivid color and harsh reality captured in the images I share at these presentations. I look forward to telling a few of the many stories I gather through interviews. With hope, I will expand the support of this project.
What is your biggest accomplishment as a result of being a Fractured Atlas member?
I have raised almost $36,000 over the past 3 years, which resulted in three residencies serving over 75 women artists and teens, hosting three widely attended community exhibits in Armenia, and putting my mission into action in the following ways. In August of 2018, the advanced artists taught their own workshop to fellow artists, thus building community and opportunity at the grassroots level. In October, this group had a masterclass with a specialist from the Matenadaran, Armenia’s premier museum of illuminated manuscripts. We learned the iconic binding style native to Armenia, thus linking this project to the lineage of Armenian manuscripts. And thirdly, I was assisted by 4 of these same artists to teach a beginner’s workshop in October. 2018 was the year of our mission in action!
You can learn more about Suzi and her work with New Illuminations at www.newilluminations.com; on Facebook at @LaundryLineDivine; on Instagram at @suzibb; on Twitter at @laundrylinediv; and on LinkedIn at @suzigardens.
About Molaundo Jones
Molaundo Jones is a visual artist, entrepreneur, and arts adminstrator. As Social Media Specialist, he creates strategies and content for social media marketing and works with our members to develop a comprehensive calendar of events. Molaundo is a New York native, earned his MFA in Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts, and BA in Marketing at Morehouse College. He is founder of The Clever Agency, a communications consultancy and develops professional development programs for Queens Council on the Arts. He has also worked with the New York Foundation on the Arts' Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program and Artist as Entrepreneur Bootcamp and has served as a grant panelist for Bryant Park Corporation, Brooklyn Arts Council, and the Museum of Art and Design.