New project embeds artists in Lexington city hall

Published 5:41 am Sunday, July 4, 2021

The City of Lexington is taking the phrase, “Life imitates art,” to a new level.

Three local artists are now working within city government offices, a part of Lexington’s new “Civic Artist-in-Residence,” or CAIR, program. CAIR is the brainchild of nonprofit CivicLex, the City of Lexington and the Blue Grass Community Foundation.

The program pairs the three artists with a different department within the city. Megan Gulla, director of programs for CivicLex, said the vision behind CAIR is to bring public attention to the work of local government, as well as to provide a fresh, creative perspective of doing that work.

“We think artists have a unique way of approaching stuck aspects of work or problems,” Gulla said. “With the CAIR program, we’re hoping the artists can work with city government staff to celebrate their work and build stronger connections with the public through art.”

According to Gulla, the program will be a year-long process that involves a month of orientation, three months of observing the departments, three months of developing projects and six months of implementing those projects.
She said applications opened in January and ran through late March; they asked for candidates to live in Fayette County and to have “direct, lived experience in marginalized communities.” A selection team, working with the individual government departments, chose the three finalists.

The applicant pool of 56 “featured artists from many ethnic and cultural backgrounds, with different levels of experience and establishment, a wide range of ages, and an equitable gender ratio,” Gulla said.
The finalists, Hannah Allen, Anthony Gilmore and Debra Faulk each specialize in different art forms and will work in varying departments within the local government.

HANNAH ALLEN: NOT YOUR GRANDMOTHER’S QUILTER

Allen is a Lexington native, School for the Creative and Performing Arts alumna and artist specializing in textiles, specifically quilting.