The Dream that would become TILA & Memories for a Lifetime.
It’s not everyday that you get to open a gallery. Especially a gallery that you have been dreaming up since you were a little girl.
Many publications and major news outlets like Forbes, 21 Ninety and Huffington Post have shared my story and taken a peek as to how TILA came to life.
It dawned on me, after closing our doors on March 1, that I have yet to share thoughts about it. Really it was my Community Manager, Sierra King, that probed me to shed light on my experience. In her most honest yet nudging way she said, “Tiffany, you need to write a blog about starting TILA. I think the community needs to hear from you. It will be a great way to culminate what we were able to accomplish.”
To be honest, I really didn’t want to write this blog. It took me 12 days and a lot of hard stares in the mirror to muster up the confidence to express my feelings. I’ve been in a constant and perpetual state of movement. Meaning never-ending meetings, new expectations, new deadlines and lots of growth that I never took a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.
TILA (meaning Tiffany LaTrice) was created by me but really it was built by the community.
To recount what the past two years have been, I thought it would be best to share the milestones that have shown me how remarkable it is to be a woman, to be alive, and to be actively taking up public space.
PAST + THE BEGINNING
November 8, 2016, Election Night, Atlanta,GA,USA
In a politically heated moment for our country, I felt the urge and confidence to be bold despite the direction of where we were headed. I intuitively knew that community organizing and activism was going to be the pulse of my actions and work from that day forward. After casting my vote for the 2016 presidential election, I drove down the street to the brick building that was owned by the Guardian Protective who was leasing a few office spaces. This is when I first encountered the space.
On November 24, 2016, the building manager gave me a challenge that would change my trajectory. I had three weeks to curate and produce an art exhibit in the space. So I got to work…
One month later on December 15, 2016. In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens Opens to a packed house. Meanwhile, I was working at Starbucks and Octane on Marietta Street.
I got my business license. Never gave the keys back. Lol.
February 2017, we opened our second show, Assuage, curated and produced by Victoria Allen. Check out those hand painted walls. We didn’t have the budget to afford contractors yet.
Throughout the year of 2017 an art workshop by and for women that we coined, No Boys Allowed, became our signature program.
Artist like Jasmine Nicole Williams taught printmaking, Ariel Dannielle taught stylistic painting, Alahna Watson taught us how to draw with charcoal while using our sight looking at a live model. Courtney Brooks brought her love for hip hop and painting to teach us how music can influence your strokes.
October 2017. We had our first major collaboration with the 800 Collective. Cranes, Crowns and Scales exhibition inspired by Solange’s A Seat at the Table. We also hosted community workshops for adults and teenagers. This was the first time we ventured into more expansive programming.
2018, A New Year, a better TILA
January 2018. We revamp the studio and decide to start our co-working model and opened with the first exhibition in February, Knew Africa with Melissa Mitchell.
March 2018. We invited over 40 Black Women Artist to gather in the space for a gift giving ( and taking! ) Black Elephant exchange. Everyone was dressed in black and we took over the streets, literally!
March 2018 – December 2018. We open our doors to 31 awesome members, host 9-10 programs per month and run a 24 -hour collaborative studio space.
December 2018 - TILA Takes Art Basel. It became complete gamechanger.
To not only take 10 Black Women Artist to Miami,FL for a Miami Art Week but also
All of my Grandmother Lillian's wildest dreams encompassed in a year of work.
PRESENT + FUTURE
January 2019 – March 2019. TILA Goes Digital.
We say goodbye to the studio to grow our audience and serve more women.
It was a hard decision, but a decision made by our community. It turns out that TILA was a dream conferred by me but sustained by the women that invest and breathe life into the space. We’re moving closer to the women that we serve and plan to make the West End our home in 2020.
This would not have been possible without an amazing group of women who set the tone and put so much sweat equity into the place we all grew to love.
To Sierra King, Taylor Robinson, Dierra Font, Victoria Allen the first team members that I ever had. To Colbie Fray, Grace Gardner and Clarrissa Pettijohn who would join me later down the line.
Thank you for your relentless efforts, constant unwavering faith, belief and consistency despite the roadblocks and bumps.
I know the road hasn’t been easy, but you have groomed me into a better leader. I am forever grateful.
Black women, we are capable of anything.
TILA Will Go With You,
Executive Director - TILA Studios