The Association for Visual Arts (AVA) was recently selected as new managers and curators of art displayed at the INCubator inside the Hamilton County Business Development Center (BDC).

Originally launched as Art at the INCubator by Gail Rich through Jumpstart Art, the art collection began as a loan program to display local artwork inside the BDC.

After receiving an invitation to manage the program, earlier this year, AVA transitioned the collection’s purpose into a professional development program for emerging artists, now called AVA @ the INCubator.

AVA displays artwork by emerging artists in three-month rotations of small group exhibits throughout the BDC’s two main floors and main entrance corridor.

AVA @ the INCubator supports emerging artists through professional development and exhibition opportunities. It encourages artists to mark their all for sale and equips them with tools to pursue targeted goals such as applying for grants, RFPs and residencies. This mission aligns with the INCubator’s goal of providing opportunities for entrepreneurs through the BDC’s ecosystem or startup services, training workshops, and office and manufacturing space.

In January, AVA opened applications for the program’s inaugural cohort. Selected artists work with AVA’s curator and education director in two or three-person cohorts to create a small group exhibit to display and sell local artwork.

“This is a great opportunity for new or emerging artists who need or want support with some of the nuts and bolts of managing an art practice with the goal of then applying or submitting work to galleries, exhibits and opportunities outside of the Chattanooga area. It is only open to artists who are not currently represented by any gallery. Keep an eye out for open calls throughout the year to submit work and apply,” Tim Goldsmith, Curator, Education Director, AVA says.

The first cohort includes three local artists, April Van Brunt, Katie Aronat and Meredith Olinger.  Their work is on display at the BDC from March 31 to July 7.

To welcome the first cohort, AVA is holding an opening reception at the BDC on Friday, March 31 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Meet AVA @ the INCubator’s inaugural artist cohort:

April Van Brunt

Artist Bio:

April Van Brunt, emerging artist

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Van Brunt grew up in a family of musicians and artists. Van Brunt first picked up the paint brush after the death of her mother in 2019. She moved with her family to Chattanooga during the COVID-19 pandemic, finding inspiration in the beauty of our regions everyday surroundings.

“I pull inspiration from the world around me; my yard, the hiking trail down the street, the memories I have that hold more weight than they did before, the hydrangeas in my mom’s yard, they ivy geraniums from my Gran’s house, my great-grandma’s irises, the landscape that makes up my children’s formative years. My intention is to capture the dreamlike feeling of nostalgia that memories hold and tell their story,” Van Brunt says.

Katie Aronat

Artist Bio:

Katie Aronat, emerging artist

Born in Bakersfield, California, Aranot is an abstract artist that creates under the name Arrowknot Art. She held roles as a graphic designer, motion designer and art director before finding herself in business manegment and searching for a creative outlet. Aronot began painting in 2022 and channels her years of working in pixels into abstract art.

“Abstract art healed my perfectionism. The work I create is an expression of my freedom to color outside the lines, featuring chaotic scribbles, unconventional shapes, and layers (and layers) of color. I’m particularly inspired by Abstract Expressionism’s spontaneity and expression of the creative unconscious,” Aronat says.

Meredith Olinger

Artist Bio:

Meredith Olinger, emerging artist

Olinger works primarily with wallpaper of her own design. Her work deals with the dependence of art and design on each other, blurring the lines between painting and installation. Olinger has been included in many group shows, most notably the Memphis 2021 exhibition at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, the Pantone Color of the Year Exhibition, and the Art of the South Exhibition. She holds a masters of fine arts from the Memphis College of Art.

“I make patterns out of everything. I’ll scan to-do lists, repeat images of old paintings, or use graphic design work from past jobs. Nothing is off limits. I also photograph my work while it is in process, make a pattern out of it, and then place that back into the work. I am interested in the possibilities of digital representation, the dependence of art and design on each other, and the elements of chance and control,” Olinger says.

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