Each spring, the Double Decker Arts Festival on the Oxford Courthouse Square features the handiwork of talented local artists. At this year’s festival, more than 100 artists will showcase their creations from a diverse range of disciplines from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 29.
“The event is going to have a plethora of fine artists and craftspeople. We’re going to show people how these arts are actually impacting our community,” Wayne Andrews, director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, said. “It’s an opportunity for people to really get a visualization of why things like Double Decker and artists are so important.”
Through the council’s Community Supported Arts program, local creative entrepreneurs are granted the opportunity to pursue their artistic dreams.
From Macon Humphris and Graham Hamaker’s hand-dyed overalls and apparel brand, Grapefruit, to Crystal’s Custom Craft Creations, the CSA program allows artists to share their experiences and invites community members to support their businesses through purchasing artists’ work.
At the Arts Council’s Double Decker booth, visitors will have the opportunity to engage with artisans and learn more about their crafts and businesses.
“Our goal is to build a sense of community,” Andrews said. “We’re having a showcase so people can learn about the Arts Council and learn about the contributions artists make, not just artistically but towards entrepreneurship and community development.”
In addition to career artists, the festival will feature expressive work from students of the Oxford High School Art Club.
“We will have a variety of mixed media in our booth, from ceramics, acrylic and oil paintings to pencil, charcoal and colored pencil drawings,” Oxford High fine arts director Tiffany Priewe said. “You can expect to see portraits, fashion design, graphic style art, emotional pieces and all sorts of imaginative creations.”
Priewe shared that having an artistic space enables students to escape the stress and pressure of their lives and explore various avenues of expression.
“I could not be more proud of them. They continue to inspire and motivate me as their teacher, and I cannot wait to see what amazing accomplishments the art club tackles next year,” Priewe said.
Because the fine arts department at Oxford High School offers an array of classes and opportunities from photography to visual arts, students are given the unique opportunity to not only explore their passions, but also to publicly share their creations at art shows.
“Visitors will see a variety of different art pieces made by a variety of different OHS art students, each piece with its own personality and meaning,” Oxford High School Art Club President Madelyn Parsons said. “We allow our students to work with any medium of art, whether that is paint, pencil, photography or ceramics.”
Along with local artists, the event will feature artists visiting from around the globe.
Larisa Warhol, founder of Green Earth Climate Action, has lived in East Africa since 2015.She discovered the hidden gem of Oxford when the pandemic impeded her environmental projects in East Africa.
GECA is a nonprofit organization that collaborates with farmers to promote sustainable agriculture practices.
Warhol’s career in developing sustainable practices inspired her to pursue art with a purpose of functionality. She intertwines her passion for environmental preservation and practice of woven arts to create hand-made custom baskets.
“Oxford has a very special place in my heart,” Warhol said. “I encourage people to stop by and chat with us to learn more about Green Earth Climate Action and ways they can get involved.”
Visiting Oxford for the first time, David Fortenberry plans to share a craft passed down for generations through his business, Smoky Mountain Bow Knife. Beginning almost 30 years ago, Smoky Mountain Bow Knife offers a variety of handcrafted kitchenware, ranging from Tupelo gum dough bowls to its famous exotic wooden bow knives.
“What inspires me is seeing my work go from a bare piece of wood to a finished piece that they are proud to have in their kitchen,” Fortenberry said. “I love how proud people are to have my craft in their own kitchens, and hopefully it will get passed to their own children.”
Fortenberry shared that his craft consists of traditional woodworking as opposed to computerized manufacturing in order to yield pieces of exceptional quality for his customers.