For years, unconsciously she created a “runway” filled with visual art displays, of what seemed to be small projects⸺with a significant impact⸺ultimately feeding into the sum of a much larger equation. In 2015 an international art and fashion exhibition called Art Meso was birthed by Curator and Founder, Jennifer Sutton.
The annual celebration is a “unique collision of high fashion runway productions, [and] art exhibitions fused together to create an unforgettable entertainment experience.”
Now, in its fourth year Jennifer has brought talent to the United States from 15 different countries for the annual event including Spain, Singapore, Slovenia and Paris. The city of Atlanta recognized Art Meso with a proclamation, and the function has raised more than $20,000 for non-profit organizations.
Even though Jennifer has always been passionate about art and fashion it took some time for the Art Meso concept to come to fruition.
Jennifer has a background in retail management, she has also served as a visual executive. In this role, she was responsible for writing directories about floor set up, and creating diagrams and displays for a major retailer. The art enthusiast has also served as a wardrobe stylist for television and film.
However, she knew wardrobe styling wouldn’t be enough to satisfy her creative desires.“I did wardrobe for several years, then I started getting bored with that. I already knew wardrobe was like a vehicle to kind of navigate to what I wanted to do,” she said. “You couldn’t really get creative on these photo shoots and make money at the same time. I had to do more commercial productions and more print work, where it was really basic pieces…I was really missing the creative component…”
In a Voyage ATL article, Jennifer said she enjoyed wardrobe but she also wanted to do something innovative and impact the community.
Her passion for community service is something she learned from watching her grandmother while growing up, Jennifer remembers her as a “silent-giver,” with a big heart. In 2009, she volunteered for the fashion ministry at her church, where she launched an annual fashion show, helping to empower and build confidence among the youth.
“The basis of it, was to create confidence inside and out. We worked on image and confidence for the teens. I did make overs, and we brought photographers in, we did photo shoots…building confidence and creating the exterior to go along with it.”
All of these accomplishments provided her with the skills and connections needed to expand her reach overseas to produce the phenomenal Art Meso project.
“It all seems to have evolved into an Art Meso. With props and displays, and mannequins that tell a story, the art, the fashion and all of that. I woke up one day right out of my sleep and said: ‘wait, a second, this is it.’”
Jennifer’s “aha moment,” was birthed out of frustration. One day, she realized she could take her gift seriously and make a living out of it, full-time. Originally from Lorain, Ohio, Jennifer grew up in an environment with people from all walks of life. In fact, her hometown has been dubbed “The International City,” because it has over 70 nationalties. Jennifer admits that moving to Atlanta, was a type of culture shock.
“When I came to Atlanta from Ohio I felt a disconnect, the temperature was very different. I’m used to having all kinds of different friends and hanging out with everybody,” she explained. “I was very disheartened, but I didn’t want that to define who I am.”
Jennifer refers to Art Meso as the Cirque Du Soleil of fashion. She and her team have hosted Art Meso pop-ups in other locations like Boston, Ohio, Chicago and California, but the main show is here in Atlanta.
This year’s show will take place on Saturday, October 5 to Sunday, October 6 at the W Hotel in Atlanta. The theme is La Genèse, meaning Genesis in English, the first book of the bible. The line up includes both local and international artists like like Melissa A. Mitchell and Amy Rader of Atlanta, Tony Trunzo of Italy, and Ela Fidalgo of Spain, just to name a few. The schedule includes a VIP celebration, an art exhibition, a marketplace and a silent auction with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
I noticed that Jennifer’s projects contain one major similarity: they always seem to keep art as a focal point, and educate the masses at the same time, her latest venture One Art is no different. One Art is a non-profit organization that is focused on developing artists. The program will help make their work profitable and provide them with the proper education and tools to take care of their livelihood.
Jennifer is an optimist, who loves life, and credits God with giving her the vision to create these historical projects, he plays a big part in her journey. She believes that “creating is the fundamental basis to existence.” And, I think all creatives would agree with that statement.