Refinery29 Brings 29Rooms To Atlanta And BOSSIP Gets The Scoop From Local Atlanta Artist Neka King
We’re just a week out from the Atlanta opening of Refinery29’s annual immersive festival 29Rooms: Expand Your Reality visit to Atlanta from August 29 – September 8. This will be the first time the event has come to Atlanta, so it’s probably appropriate that this is also the first time 29Rooms is adding The Art Park, a new artist collective initiative, which invited one local artist in each city to transform a geometric playground into a canvas for creativity. We spoke with Atlanta’s pick, NNEKKAA, an interdisciplinary artist and Georgia State grad known for creating visual,digital and print-based media, inspired by her personal experience as a Southern, black American female. Check out our interview below:
BOSSIP: So Neka have you been pretty busy preparing for the 29Rooms opening in Atlanta?
NNEKKA: Yes, I’ve been pretty busy. I’ve been trying to work on my own process and also eagerly awaiting to see the final project in person.
BOSSIP: We love your work, should we expect to see some of the same type of graphic designs you’ve become known for at 29Rooms or are you doing something completely different?
NNEKKA: Yea you’ll definitely see some similar figures, I’m still dealing with a lot of black figures in an Afro-Futuristic way but it’s just going to be blown up and much bigger and larger scale so I’m excited to see the effect it has at that size.
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BOSSIP: We saw that you posted on your Instagram that your work is gonna be at the Art Park. Can you tell us more about that?
NNEKKAA: So basically the Art Park at 29Rooms is this really cool area that you get to experience the art by walking through it. It’s kinda like almost like a playground because a lot of the structures you can really interact with. I guess they really wanted to bridge that gap between interaction and visual art and create an experience that takes you out of the everyday comfort or how you would interact with art on the norm.
BOSSIP: So in addition to the Art Park, are you also working with other artists in the rooms? We heard it is kind of collaborative.
NNEKKAA: Yea, it was basically collaborative between me and Refinery29. They created this awesome structure where there they were like, ‘Do whatever you want with this’ and I was like, ‘Cool this amazing.’ So yes the collaboration happened, at least on my end, was between me and Refinery29.
BOSSIP: Did you have a chance to work on the room created in collaboration with the ACLU “The Value Stand”?
NNEKKAA: No I did not, I kinda honestly don’t know what all the other rooms are, so I’m excited to see what they have in store.
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BOSSIP: We noticed a lot of your work features what look like crowns on some of the figures. Is that symbology of crowns?
NNEKKAA: It definitely could read as that. It’s funny, I don’t like telling people what to see. I really just like hearing what people they see in it. Some people see crowns, some people see halos, but I like to think of it as a kind of an energy or aura, just to emphasize more on the figure of what your looking at.
BOSSIP: Could you tell us anything more about what inspired you for your work with the Art Park?
NNEKKAA: It was a little tricky. We were given the prompt “Expand Your Reality,” and I was just trying to think what that really means and what I wanted to create. I knew I wanted to create something really otherworldly and kind of fantasy, but I still wanted to keep with the subjects and scenes I work with in my work, dealing with Black figures and African-American background and what not. I was trying to figure out a way to talk about Atlanta without depicting particular figures. We have sooo many figures here, I would need more space for all of the people in Atlanta for me to depict all of the figures that have contributed to the culture in Atlanta, it would take a lot of room. So, I was trying to sum that up in a few figures and make it kind of abstract where you would still get that idea. I kind of started thinking culturally what came out of Atlanta and how even living here, with all the people in the room and with all the community here, each individual sticks out in their own right — and I really love that about Atlanta. We have a community here but each individual, they have their own expanded reality, so I really just wanted to capture that feel. Going into this fantasy universe, but still giving a sense of community and people.
BOSSIP: You’re from New Orleans right, but you’ve been in Atlanta for awhile?
NNEKKA: Yes, I’m from New Orleans, that was another challenge as well, I’ve been here for so long, it would be not right to not claim Atlanta as well. So yea I just speak from my own personal experience with Atlanta and being a “transplant.” So that was a dope subject to work with.
BOSSIP: What are you most excited about or looking forward to about Atlanta’s 29Rooms activation?
NNEKKAA: Going back to the idea of community is here, once you find what you’re into being into the art community and being able to have my peers see it, not to sound cheesy but it’s kind of like a homecoming. For them to see it and get their response to it; to see how people respond to it locally and what they get from it, I’m excited to just be a fly on the wall for that.
In addition to NNEKKAA’s work with the Art Park, a new 2019 addition to 29Rooms is The Traveling Billboard – a full-scale billboard mural by locally-based artists, welcoming guests to 29Rooms and highlighting talent from each tour community. The mural exclusive to Atlanta will be created by local artist and Agnes Scott College professor Sarah Emerson, whose work has been exhibited across the U.S., including the High Museum of Art.
Besides NNEKKAA and Emerson, the dynamic event will bring together new collaborators YvettenMayorga, Dan Lam, hanski and Trap Bob, plus popular returning collaborations from Kali Uchis, Carlota Guerrero, Uzumaki Cepeda, The Hoodwitch and the ACLU. Additionally, 29Rooms will welcome innovative brand collaborators including Prudential Financial, SheaMoisture, Transitions Optical, Bitten Dressing and Panera.
Tickets for 29Rooms Atlanta are available now at 29Rooms.com starting at $29.
DATES: August 29 – September 8 (closed Labor Day)
TIME: 1:30pm – 10:30pm (Tues – Thurs)
10:30am – 10:30pm (Fri – Sun)
General admission ticket guarantees access for one 2.5-hour session.
LOCATION: The Works – 1235 Chattahoochee Ave NW, Atlanta, GA 30318
Parking is limited at the venue. Rideshare is strongly encouraged.
The tour will continue on to Toronto, ON (Canada) from September 26 – October 6 and Washington, D.C. from October 18 – 27.