Connect with us

Arts & Culture

Atomically Correct: Janet Beard

Inequality of the sexes. Invisibility under Jim Crow. Nukes. Columbus author Janet Beard’s Atomic City Girls (due out this month from Harper-Collins) is a moving piece of historical fiction set in her East Tennessee hometown in the mid-’40s—but its explorations are as prescient as yesterday’s CNN headlines. Her story revolves around June Walker, an 18-year-old [...]
Jeni Ruisch

Published

on

Inequality of the sexes. Invisibility under Jim Crow. Nukes.

Columbus author Janet Beard’s Atomic City Girls (due out this month from Harper-Collins) is a moving piece of historical fiction set in her East Tennessee hometown in the mid-’40s—but its explorations are as prescient as yesterday’s CNN headlines.

Her story revolves around June Walker, an 18-year-old who hops off a bus in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and into a secretive world of security checks and supervised machine-work—where she and others like her have been made, unknowingly, the gears of nuclear war.

In real life, hundreds like June were part of the Manhattan Project, the clandestine creation of the war-ending nuclear bombs. Beard, who grew up in Oak Ridge, deftly paints a picture comprised of cultural familiarity and painstaking research.

“I search for the details of everyday life that will bring history to life and try to avoid imposing my 21st century ideas onto my characters, though I know some of that is inevitable.”

In this period of the 21st century—with the President going Twit-for-tat with the country’s most volatile leaders, and with a new renaissance in equality gaining steam, Beard’s novel feels like a callback and a call to arms.

“The educational and career opportunities that have opened up for women in the past seventy-five years are staggering,” she says.

Women streaming into factories to help the wartime effort was the first huge push out of the home and into the workplace. But getting one’s foot in the door is only the beginning of a long battle.

“The situation was viewed as temporary, like rationing or blackouts,” Beard added.

“[And] seventy-five years ago, the concept of sexual harassment didn’t exist. Army training materials for the ‘girls’ like my protagonist June coming to work at Oak Ridge, explicitly instructed them that, while they should dress and behave in an attractive manner, it was their responsibility to avoid unwanted attention from male supervisors.”

In real life, as in her story, ordinary people from all over the Tennessee region and beyond came to work in Oak Ridge. Brought together for a single effort, but split apart by imposed social circumstance, Beard creates interactions and ramifications between not only individuals, but groups of people. Black Americans were an important part of the Oak Ridge workforce. Unfortunately, the Army deferred to the institutional racism of the Jim Crow South, building a fully segregated town in Oak Ridge. Some of Beard’s characters embody this conflict, humanizing a story of coming together that is often at odds with itself. The universalities of the workers were aspirations of a better life, and a desire to serve their country.

“They moved to Oak Ridge for both money and patriotism and were generally proud to be a part of the war effort. People placed a degree of trust in the government that is hard to imagine today. That trust led to U.S. victory but allowed abuses of power, as well. Yet conflicts persist around the world, and the human cost of war stays depressingly constant throughout history.”

In other words: the more things change, they more they stay the same:

“Because the U.S. has now been involved in wars for so long, I think it is easy for those of us without a personal connection to the Armed Forces to ignore them,” Beard said.

In an era where constant conflict has become normalized, Beard follows a ‘those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ philosophy. Using the raw material of history, and flavoring it with fiction, Beard builds a bridge from the present that can tell us a vivid and living story, while retracing our collective steps, as well as missteps.  

Beard, who made her first publishing splash with upstart Two Dollar Radio, will keep the launch of Atomic City Girls local with a reception at their headquarters (1124 Parsons Ave.) on February 6. For more, visit janetbeard.com.

Continue Reading

Arts & Culture

Arts Fest Preview: Kate Morgan, 2D mixed media artist

614now

Published

on

SPONSORED

Kate Morgan began developing her ghostly, layered two-dimensional portraits after going back to school at the Columbus College of Art & Design in 2005. She already had some background in visual arts through her work in fashion and commercial photography, so the transition to drawing and painting was organic.

Morgan’s textured collages are inspired by folklore, mythology and a variety of artistic periods — especially Byzantine art. The 2011 Columbus Arts Festival Emerging Artist alum and 2019 exhibiting artist welcomes a wide array of complex themes into her pieces — including symbolic, cultural, historical and spiritual themes — while utilizing layers of vintage paper and original drawings to create visual depth and a sense of mystery.

Her pieces are purposely vague, leaning toward more minimalistic ideas to allow for wider interpretation by audiences. Largely her art depicts the female form, with as many layers and stories to tell as that of every human being. This is done with an eclectic assortment of materials — including sheet music, German Biblical pages, newspaper and maps — to add detail in both a topical and textural sense.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

And yet, Morgan still continues to look for a challenge. From venturing away from her familiar blue hues to exploring different mediums like ceramics, her work knows no creative limits.

Morgan has exhibited at the Columbus Arts Festival nearly every year since 2011. She has gone on to win two jurors’ choice awards in the 2D category at the Columbus Arts Festival, as well as sell and have work juried at other major festivals across the country. In Columbus, her work can be seen as part of the Columbus Makes Art and Donatos Pizza collaborative mural “Every Piece Is Important” at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

Morgan has a BFA from CCAD and currently works out of her Franklinton studio in Columbus. Experience this stunning work first hand when you visit her at booth M572 on the Main Street Bridge during the Columbus Arts Festival from June 7-9 at the downtown riverfront.

Continue Reading

Arts & Culture

Be Square: Changes coming to arts community at 400 W Rich

Mike Thomas

Published

on

If you haven’t visited the thriving arts community at 400 West Rich street in awhile, you might be surprised to see how much things have changed. Now, the minds behind the city’s hub for the arts are changing things up to better reflect the area’s evolution.

400 Square is the new collective moniker for the array of concepts that currently occupy the buildings on the 400 block of Rich street in Franklinton. The rebrand seeks to unify the community of artistic innovators who call the area developed by Urban Smart Growth their creative home.

Promo art for 400 Square by Anthony Damico

Spaces encompassed in the rebrand include Strongwater, The Vanderelli Room, and Chromedge Studios, and of course, the studios at 400 W. Rich. While the name may be changing, the group remains committed to providing and sustaining a thriving hub for creatives through education, resources, and entertainment opportunities in the area.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

With the launch of 400 Square, Urban Smart Growth Director of Operations Seth Stout has led his team to develop new offerings for each of the growing spaces. Food and Beverage Director Lauren Conrath and Events Director Molly Blundred have taken the lead with changes to the Strongwater brand, while Community Director Stephanie McGlone and Art Director AJ Vanderelli are facilitating programming for all ages and abilities on the artist side.

Through all of the changes on the way, the staff at 400 Square are committed to bringing the public the same high quality of workshops, events, exhibitions, and more that have always been part of their unique creative community.

Stay tuned for more info—the new 400 Square officially rolls out during the weekend of Columbus Arts Fest 2019, June 7-9.

Continue Reading

Arts & Culture

Arts Fest Preview: Cousin Simple to wow crowd with energy, passion

614now

Published

on

SPONSORED

As a young up-and-coming band, Cousin Simple is excited to play at this year’s Columbus Art’s Festival. In their two years as a band, they have already done a lot of really cool things, such as making a single with L.A. multi-platinum music producer David Kershenbaum, playing at Vans Warped Tour at Blossom Music Center, and selling out shows at the A&R Bar, the Basement and The Big Room Bar. But there is much more they want to accomplish including recording more music, making a music video and playing more shows in and out of Columbus.

The band members are all Columbus born and raised. Four members currently attend The Ohio State University, while their drummer Joel is finishing up his junior year at New Albany high School. Cousin Simple brings an energy and passion to the stage and gives everything they have to their performances, regardless of the crowd size. They just released a new single in February called Honeybee, available on iTunes and Spotify and have a single set to release May 10 titled “Star Destroyers.”

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Columbus is a great city for musicians. Whether you’re in the indie, rock, or hip hop scene, there are other musicians and music industry people willing to help you out. Columbus also takes a great sense of pride in its “local gems.” People love to see musicians who are doing well in their hometown and are willing to support them in many ways.

There are so many organizations that have taken this to heart and are helping bands get great opportunities. CD102.5, WCBE 90.5, PromoWest Productions and the Columbus Music Commission have helped Cousin Simple get airtime, shows and support. When it comes to music cities, Columbus may not be the first place that comes to mind, but there are so many bands and musicians doing exciting things it’s making the future bright for them and the Columbus music scene.

But Cousin Simple recognizes that none of this would be possible without the support of their family, friends and FANS that come to each and every show. They are humbled and motivated by their audiences who energize them to make every performance an experience their fans won’t forget. 

Cousin Simple will perform on the Big Local Music Stage on Rich Street on Friday night, June 7 at 7:45 p.m.

Continue Reading

No mo’ FOMO

Missing out sucks. That's why our daily email is so important. You'll be up-to-date on the latest happenings and things to do in Cbus + be the first to snag our daily giveaways

Shop Now!

The Magazines

X