Though Fort Pulaski is almost two hundred years old, its staff is always looking for ways to make it feel relevant and exciting again.
“I’ve been looking at different ways we could potentially highlight the fort and its different purposes,” says Joel Cadoff, Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services.
“The exhibition happens to be in a part of the fort which is where the soldiers lived. You come into the static room and hear stuff. We want to reach so many people.”
Cadoff had been pondering an art exhibition in the fort for a while, and the opportunity finally came in the form of a partnership with the International Fiber Collaborative, or IFC.
“Jennifer Marsh [with IFC] finally wrangled me down,” laughs Cadoff. “IFC is a nonprofit, and they send panels, coordinate with schools, worked with us, and we all develop a theme.”
This year’s theme of the resulting exhibition is “Picking Up the Pieces, an expansive exhibition.
All told, 16 Georgia schools contributed art for this exhibition, and over 600 pieces of art were created.
“It’s really interesting to see [the art],” says Cadoff. “Basically, you have this gamut of second grade all the way through high school. There are all sorts of different abilities—some are just fantastic.”
While not all the art is on display, the range that’s on view is impressive.
“It’s been super cool to interact with the students, even getting out to schools, because they’re thinking about some of our themes and the things we talk about here at Fort Pulaski,” says Cadoff. “With a whole bunch of age ranges, kids will have all sorts of ideas and you can see them on display.”
The theme allowed for a lot of exploration and artistic expression.
“There are the folks taking it literally, painting something on white puzzle pieces, gluing it on the media,” says Cadoff. “Another one of my favorites is this girl standing in the moat, and she’s putting one last piece on, and it’s a painted puzzle piece that completes Fort Pulaski.”
This exhibition is the start of what Cadoff hopes will be a long, productive partnership—with a few improvements.
“There are certainly some challenges in our space. Inside the fort, even though it’s enclosed, there’s no environmental control,” Cadoff says. “The art is definitely being stressed to the max. It’s not like being at the Telfair or the Jepson, where the space is perfectly controlled.”
Even without museum-quality controls, the partnership with IFC demonstrates the necessity of Fort Pulaski taking on events like exhibitions.
“I’m very hopeful that this is the start, at least with IFC, of something that can be an annual tradition here,” says Cadoff. “If it’s something we can expand upon, that would be cool, but even being able to see this kind of presentation to the fort—we did this, what else can we do? There are definitely places and times where the fort itself is a crazy medium between the architecture and the history.”