Late last summer, a friend told me about the Community Supported Art Program (CSA) sponsored by the Charlotte Arts and Science Council (ASC).

The CSA is modeled after local farm share programs. Each year, 9 local artists are selected to each create 50 original artworks for a $2,000 stipend. While the artists are busy working away, the CSA sells 50 shares to local art collectors and supporters. These 50 patrons buy in at $500 a share and are invited to three private parties during the season. Patrons and artists get a chance to mingle. Each event culminates with three of the nine artists giving a little spiel about themselves and the 50 original pieces they created for the program. The patrons then take home the works from that evening’s featured artists. By the end of the season, each patron has collected a piece of art from each artist. The artists have had the amazing opportunity to work through a whole new series and to see all 50 pieces sent off to new homes

When I learned of the CSA, I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of it.

Still, “wanting” and “getting” don’t always coincide.
I looked up the program requirements just in time to attend an informational meeting. I was thoroughly intimidated by all the formally trained artists sitting alongside me. I fussed over what kind of series I might want to tackle. Then I fussed even harder over which of my works might resonate with the committee and the patrons. By the time I pushed through my prototypes and completed the CSA application, I’d convinced myself that my idea stunk and I would not be chosen. Not to mention, the series I’d proposed was labor intensive so maybe I didn’t want to be chosen anyway. Talk about sour grapes.

Much to my surprise, delight and no small trepidation, when the ASC announced the 2019 CSA artists in December, my name was one of the nine.

I started working on my series immediately after Christmas. I “went dark” for three months as I retreated into my home studio to obsess over and to work through the pieces.

“Animaux” by Val Chan for the 2019 Charlotte CSA

I am not overstating things when I say that I obsessed and fussed over my “Animaux” series the entire time I worked on them, framed them and sewed felt packaging for each piece.

But I have to tell you, it was a truly magical moment for me to stand before this year’s patrons and to share with them my process to create “Animaux.” Thus far, in my explorations of what it means to grow into the strongest artist I can be, this was truly the most defining moment. All my gratitude to the ASC for choosing me and to the patrons who graciously listened to me, laughed with me and then assured me the drawing each received was indeed their favorite.