How would you feel standing in front of 800 pounds of art? The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council recently made this a reality with their newest roving installment, ARTomaton.
The ARTomaton is a vending machine stocked with small works of art from local artists. The items inside range from “pack of crackers” sized jewelry and Artist Trading Cards to 5-by-7 prints of chickens. Also on display are hand turned wooden tops and toys created by local artists.
“Vending machines that dispense art is not a new idea, or even an original one. We simply took a concept that we knew worked and adjusted it to fit the needs of our local community,” said Stacey Sanford, education and outreach coordinator for the arts council.
The ARTomaton is currently featuring art from former University of Mississippi BFA graduates Frank Estrada and Sarah Gardner; members of the Oxford Artists Guild Cecil Bowers, Debbie Myers and Caren Watts; local artisans Michelle Zerangue, Cindy Aune, Andrew Bedsloe; and Oxford Handmade. It is also hosting the “Any Occasion Cards,” created by the Lafayette County Literacy Council’s student art contest last semester, which go to support the literacy council.
“We did not actually create the machine,” Sanford said. “I simply spent four months looking for a defunct one headed for recycling and had it converted by having the cooling unit and one row merchandise row removed to accommodate larger pieces.”
The refurbished ARTomaton is now fully operational and will launch when it moves to Lamar Lounge at the end of the month. A fundamental function of the ARTomaton is its roving nature. The vending machine will spend a short amount of time in various places across Oxford over the next four weeks. At each place there will be an opportunity to buy or regard the pieces within.
“We hope that by creating a space for artists to sell their works, outside of a brick and mortar store front, we will encourage those small businesses to grow and develop followers, fans and collectors,” Sanford said.
The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council has dedicated more than twenty years to the proliferation and support of local art and local artists. The ARTomaton is the most recent way that YAC has decided to promote the art culture in Oxford.
“By making art accessible, both in price and location, we will be able to introduce more people to their local artists and bring art into more homes,” Sanford said. “We want everyone to be able to have art collections, favorite artists, and an appreciation for the wonderful local talent we have here in Lafayette County.”
The ARTomaton presents an opportunity not only for artists showcasing their work but also for anyone interested in innovative and local talent.
— Megan Fahrmeier