Illumine 2022 will feature the largest roster of artists in the event’s history. Their work will engage with many different areas of the cemetery and its complex history, from the high Victorian gardens of the Original Six Acres to the hidden stories found in the unmarked graves of the historic African American burial grounds. Using a variety of media, these artists bring to life the spring beauty and history of Oakland. Meet the artists below and learn more about their work.
Illumine runs for eight nights, April 21-24 and April 28 through May 1.
Lindsay McLain is a freelance florist inspired by the fleeting beauty and impermanence of life found in all of Nature. She often works with dried and foraged materials that even in cessation can still be considered elegant. As a gardener at Oakland, McLain considers herself very lucky to draw inspiration from her tranquil surroundings. She enjoys repurposing antique vessels for her creations.
Danielle Smoot is a professional event planner and designer with more than five years of experience organizing, designing and managing both private and corporate events. She has found solace and discovered her creativity in a love of flowers and enjoys exploring floral design. Smoot is excited to be able to express that love in a way that can be shared with others.
Denise Myers & Elise Littrel
Denise Myers and Elisse Littrell are Atlanta-based freelance floral artists who have worked together on countless weddings and corporate events. Take a peek into the secret garden, where you can view a Victorian apartment with wild, overgrown flowers in all their stages of beauty. Life still springs from the abandoned room as nature fights to reclaim this once loved home.
Elizabeth Ingram is a floral artist and restaurant designer. Her restaurant design work includes Atlanta restaurants like Beetlecat, Marcel, Superica El Tigre, and Golden Eagle. When asked about her career, Ingram describes her work accordingly— “Sometimes, I design restaurants. Sometimes, I make art. Sometimes I design arty restaurants. I also like to play with flowers.”
Quianah Upton is an Atlanta-based creative entrepreneur, food justice advocate, and story gatherer. An artist working with floral arrangement & spatial design, Upton found her story-gathering voice and creative and artistic self through gestural painting and drawing. Her creative approach displays a combination of these disciplines with a focus on cultural integrity, historical context, and greenspace.
Valerie Crisostomo has a background in lodging and events. She is an event planner by trade and lead designer and event planner at her company, One Soul Events. Crisostomo found community in the floral industry during the pandemic by seeking out florists who looked like her. That is when she started Black Girl Florists, an organization with the goal to support and celebrate Black women in floristry.
Sherida Heath is the owner of and lead design artist at The Glenwood Florist. In love with plants and flowers since childhood, Heath began her floral design career in silks, but quickly learned that fresh-cut florals and live plants were her true love. The Glenwood Florist opened its brick-and-mortar in March of 2021, during the height of the COVID pandemic, and it continues to grow and flourish.
Jasmine Nicole Williams’ work centers identity and personal politics. In her practice, she gives space for black women and girls to exist without limits. Presently, Williams is exploring hyper-awareness of self. Her work gives black women the space to undo learned ways of being and teaches black girls to own all of who they are. Williams primary medium is woodcut relief printmaking.
Jess Montoro is an Atlanta-based creative whose work spans nearly two decades. Her platform is textiles, with projects encompassing artistic collaborations and installations under the name “Jess Montoro aka LadyJBevy”. Montoro is the proud Mom of Ruby and Violet and the instigator of the Atlseamsters, an organization focused on creating community during the pandemic.
Ellex Swavoni is a multi-disciplinary, contemporary artist living and working in Atlanta, Georgia. The most prolific artworks in history contemplated humankind’s place in the universe, God, and recorded history; she builds upon those traditions using sculpture, design, and music. Swavoni’s colorful tribal works draw inspiration from Bwa and Dogon ritual masks.
Thulani Vereen is a software engineer and a freelance choreographer. Her dance challenges artists to build algorithmic processes through the body to efficiently invent new movements based off a classical, technical framework. Thulani aims to create work that encapsulates the stories most authentic to humanity and aims to show that, like STEM fields, dance is a vehicle for unlocking new innovations.