Connect with us


Gwinnett Sheriff Keybo Taylor Talks Prison, Challenges and the Future of Law Enforcement [Podcast]



Sheriff Keybo Taylor

Sheriff Keybo Taylor dives deep into the complex intersection of law enforcement, mental health, and community engagement. With decades of experience under his belt, Taylor provides valuable insights into the challenges facing the criminal justice system and the solutions being implemented in Gwinnett County, from addressing mental health issues within the prison system to fostering diversity and trust within the sheriff’s office. Listen to the UrbanEBB podcast, with host Rico Figliolini, and hear Sheriff Keybo Taylor’s vision for the future of law enforcement and community relations.

Keybo Taylor for Sheriff: https://www.keyboforsheriff.com/
Gwinnett County Sheriff Website: https://www.gwinnettcountysheriff.org/sheriffkeybotaylor
Gwinnett County Voting: https://www.gwinnettcounty.com/web/gwinnett/departments/elections

“The biggest thing that we have to stay up on top of as the criminals evolve, our training has to evolve. That’s the most important step, because no matter what type of technology you have, you still have to have people out here that can interpret what’s going on. So with good training, we get good intel. The better your intel is, the better you can put things in place to be a little bit more proactive.” — Sheriff Keybo Taylor

0:00:00 – Introduction by Rico Figliolini and gratitude to the sponsor
0:02:27 – Responsibilities and challenges of the County Sheriff
0:06:55 – Renovations and improvements in the county jail system
0:08:24 – Emphasis on mental health resources and programs
0:13:04 – Challenges in recruiting and retaining qualified law enforcement personnel
0:15:14 – Efforts to promote diversity within the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s office
0:20:55 – Challenges in public perception and the importance of changing law enforcement culture
0:25:54 – Handling cybersecurity-related calls and collaborating with appropriate agencies
0:26:20 – Ongoing training programs, including de-escalation and use-of-force training.
0:27:42 – Investments in upgrading taser situations, body cams, and technology for force recognition.
0:28:51 – Major initiatives addressing bullying and anti-gang efforts
0:31:31 – The evolving nature of law enforcement over the last 40 years
0:33:20 – Human trafficking in Gwinnett county
0:35:57 – Info on Keybo’s campaign and voting opportunities
0:36:48 – Closing

Podcast Transcript:

Rico Figliolini 0:00:00

Hi, everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of UrbanEBB, a new podcast we’ve been doing that talks about the urban environment, culture, public safety, and business. And today’s guest I’ll introduce shortly. But before we do that, I just want to say thank you to our sponsor, EV Remodeling, Inc. They’ve been a sponsor of ours for going on two or three years now. They’re based in Peachtree Corners. Eli owns the company, does great work, business that does from design to build. Check them out at EVRemodelingInc.com. And thank you for supporting us. Special guest today. Now, who I interviewed back 2020 during COVID actually, when we first started doing video podcasts remote. And that’s Keybo Taylor, Gwinnett county sheriff. Hey, Keybo, how are you?

Keybo Taylor 0:00:50

How are you doing? It’s good to see you, Rico.

Rico Figliolini 0:00:52

Good to see you, too. It’s been a long time. We’re in 2024 now, Covid seems to be a long time ago, and four years have passed quite a bit. But we learned quite a bit from you back then when you ran for office. Now it’s almost time for reelection again. Actually, it is time for re election again, but we’re going to be talking more about Gwinnett County Sheriff’s department, what it is, what’s its responsibilities. But before we get into that, I just want people to know a little bit about you. So if you, in brief, could tell us a little background about you, Keybo, that would be great.

Keybo Taylor 0:01:27

Okay, sure. Just a little bit of background about me. I was born and raised here in Lawrenceville, Georgia, so I’m a native “Gwinnician,” if you want to call it that. I raised my family here, just have been here. I started my law enforcement career very quickly back in 1983 with the Gwinnett County Police Department. Retired from there, and then, as we said, became sheriff in 2021. And so basically, like we talked about before, we just came in with a hodgepodge of ideas that we wanted to try to implement here at the sheriff’s office and be glad to discuss that with you.

Rico Figliolini 0:02:08

Sure. So tell us also for those that don’t know, because sheriffs lease officers, marshals, the city of Peachtree Corners now has a marshal system in place. So a lot of different responsibilities. Tell us for those that don’t know what a county sheriff does and is responsible.

Keybo Taylor 0:02:27

Sure. What a lot of people don’t know is that the sheriff is the chief law enforcement official in the county. Okay. Regardless if you’re a police chief or whatever, the sheriff is the official head law enforcement officer there, and the duties parallel, and sometimes, but then most of the duties of the sheriffs are exclusive to the sheriff. One, we’re the chief law enforcement officer in the county, as I said. And our job, our first responsibility is law enforcement. Now, here in Gwinnett county, we have a full service police department, Gwinnett County Police Department. So a lot of the law enforcement functions of that is handed over to the sheriff’s, excuse me, to the police department. But we’re also responsible for securing the jails, any type of civil paperwork to be served, serving warrants, felony warrants, securing the court systems, and a handful of other duties I didn’t even know that the sheriff was responsible for until I got into sheriff’s school and I realized that it was a bigger job than I first thought.

Rico Figliolini 0:03:34


Keybo Taylor 0:03:35

We do have a lot of responsibilities. Yes.

Rico Figliolini 0:03:37

Okay. One of the main responsibilities that I remember is obviously running the jail system, the county jail, and the budgets. So it’s not just an enforcement position, but it’s an administrative position in that sense. Right. Running budget, making sure you have the monies to do things, the employees to implement the policies that you put in place. How has that been over the years? Obviously, you first started, weren’t privy to, I guess, the way the jail system worked.

Keybo Taylor 0:04:08

Let me tell you. We came in and Rico, as you know, we came in right in the middle of COVID as Covid was starting to wind down. But what I found coming in is that nobody really knew what to do with the pandemic with COVID and some of the challenges that we were facing in the jail systems itself. And that wasn’t just here in Gwinnett county, that was across the country. And there was a lot of things that was trial and error that we had to try to figure out as we were moving along. So there was a lot of policies in place that when we came into office, we realized that we had to make some changes on some of those policies as we moved forward, especially as it came to, and as it pertained to personnel people. And you also know that we had just came off the heels of George Floyd, and we came off the heels of Ahmaud Arbery. And so, I mean, it was an eventful time coming in, trying to figure, know, how do we maintain and keep everybody safe in what we’re doing, and not just staff. That was also keeping, I don’t call them inmates, I call them residents here. Keeping them safe here, too, as well as dealing with people leaving the profession and trying to get people back into the profession.

Rico Figliolini 0:05:39

There were definitely challenges back then. Anyone that watched tv, the news understood that, like you said, that’s just keeping your own personal safe. But in prison, your residents, if they were infected with COVID how do you quarantine them? How do you treat them? Right? So I’m sure you had to go through that.

Keybo Taylor 0:06:00

Yeah, we had a pretty good system. Basically, when anybody came in to the jail, of course we asked them, we checked, we did the medical screening of them. But we isolated all of the new detainees coming in. Okay. And we isolated because we were going by the guidelines that we had gotten from the CDC between twelve and 14 days. So we would put them in. Into an area. Everybody that came in on a day, we kept them in that area, kept them separated from the general population. And then at the end of that time, if they were still testing negative for Covid or wasn’t showing any symptoms, symptoms, then we will put them into what we call Genprop, which is general population. But anybody that we found that was sick, we continue to keep them separate from that general population until they were.

Rico Figliolini 0:06:55

Cleared of COVID Have you done any major improvements to the actual physical jail system since you took office?

Keybo Taylor 0:07:04

Yes, very good question. Yes, we have. The majority of the renovation that we have done is in the area that we call the Plunkett building, which is the oldest section of the jail that we have. And basically, we had locks that needed to be replaced. The residents had figured out how to defeat those locks. The sensors was wore out, panels was wore out. So we went in and we retooled that particular portion of it, and we turned that into not just the medical side of it, but also for mental health. So basically what we did is we took that space and we consolidated mental health and medical all in one area.

Rico Figliolini 0:07:49

That was one of the issues that you were running on as well. And I think, even currently, about mental health resources within the prison system, dealing with detainees and residences that have mental illness was never really a priority at some years ago. And that has shifted now, I think, in the way responses are made by first responders and such. So what you’re saying is that now you are handling that physically in a different place as well, a little better than it used to be, I guess. Are you providing, obviously, programs and stuff then?

Keybo Taylor 0:08:24

Yes. I mean, we took a close look. When you look at anybody that comes through with a mental disability, if you’re looking at use of force, you’re looking at treatment, you’re looking at where they are in the criminal justice system, mental health is kind of like right at the center podge of all of it. When you’re looking at, if you go in and you do a comprehensive study of your use of force, then you’re going to see the majority of the people that come into a facility such as this and attack a deputy or deputy has to use force is normally because they’re dealing with some sort of mental disabilities that is causing that. Okay, so basically what we did is when we came in with the medical contracts, we wanted to put a stronger emphasis on the evaluation of people coming in the door. Now, does that mean that you’re going to catch everything? No, because some people may not present until a couple of days inside of general population, and then we pick up on the fact that they’re suffering from a mental disability. But we wanted to make sure that we address them coming in the door and what type of treatment plans being more aggressive on treating people with mental disabilities here and providing services, whether it’s services while they’re here and even trying to address mental disabilities once they’re back out outside of our facility, but also in with that, too. We started a mental health task force because like I told you when you and I first talked almost four years ago, we have to start looking at maybe these people don’t need to be in a jail setting. Maybe they need to be in a crisis stabilization unit. So if we could get to someone and identify a person that is going through a mental health crisis, get them to a hospital, get them into a different system other than bringing them to jail and getting them the services that they need, and then also, too, providing them with more services to help them reintegrate and get back out in here to the public so that they’re productive and they’re not recycling and coming back into the jail again. So those are some of the things that we looked at, but we realized that in order to give best care, we had to consolidate those services in one area physically. So it’s been a journey, but I feel like we’re making a lot of progress with it. We’ve had some missteps in here as far as dealing with folks with mental disabilities, but we have to make sure that we’re putting the emphasis back on the state DBHDD to make sure that we’re moving inmates, residents into the systems where they really need to be, where they can get that proper care.

Rico Figliolini 0:11:23

Yeah, that makes sense because I don’t know what percentage. What percentage of the population would you say that is that you deal with mental health issues?

Keybo Taylor 0:11:34

I don’t know what the percentage is, but right now, I have between four, maybe 450 inmates in here that has some sort of level of mental disabilities that they’re dealing with. And right now, I think the last number I had is I’ve got 15 here in the jail that should be in the state system getting treatment. And for whatever reason, we’ve not been able to move those make slash residents to the state.

Rico Figliolini 0:12:08

One of the things that is a problem apparently nationwide, it’s not just here is, and it’s not just the prison system necessarily. It’s law enforcement, is that it’s difficult to find qualified people to be hired. Time and again, I see there are budget dollars for hiring, let’s say 20 or 30 or 40 people within a system, but there’s not enough application. So the money sits there, that there is money maybe to hire, but there’s not enough qualified people applying for those jobs. And when they do, from what ends they even Gwinnett police, they’ll put them through the system, train them and all, and then within a year or two, those people leave for better paying jobs somewhere else, maybe. How are you facing those challenges? This is not just here. It’s across the board with every business, it seems, but more so, I would imagine, in law enforcement.

Keybo Taylor 0:13:04

Well, it’s like anything else. You got to look to see what the trends of the day is. And when you and I talked before, I believe we did discuss this. I told you that there needed to be, and I’m going to use a different term, a cleansing of our business here, meaning that there’s people that is in law enforcement that should not be in law enforcement. When I came in, I was coming in behind an administration that was between 13 and $14 million paid out in damages due to use of force. So, like I said, when you identify these bad actors, you got to get them up out of law enforcement completely, meaning that they should not be able to leave one agency and go to another and stay into this business. So that was a challenge. But in order to bring in the top people, you got to know that we’re in competition with other agencies, city agencies, other sheriff’s offices across the state and across the. You know, obviously, Gwinnett county has always been known for the training. All right? So a lot of people was coming here, and people realized that if you get an officer or deputy that has been trained here in Gwinnett county, they know what they’re getting. They know that they’re getting people that have some of the best training in the nation. So they make it attractive for these people to go to different agencies and leave us. So we’ve been in contact with our county commissioners and the county administrator, and we’ve talked about some of the concerns with that and coming up with different ideas on making Gwinnett county the place to be and then making Gwinnett county the place to be. We got to be ultra competitive with anybody else as far as what we’re looking at, as far as salaries, benefits, working conditions, supervision. Where we get people in and keeping folks, the retention is the most important thing. Getting people in the door is one thing. Keeping them is something totally different, for sure.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:14

And walking along that road, if you will. Diversity. Getting different people within the system that may not have been in the system before, diverse employment to be able to. I mean, we’re. Gwinnett county is a majority minority. Majority minority county. And to get the right officers and diversity in there, multilingual, it’s important as well, especially in the jail system, I would imagine. Even so, how do you deal with that? How has that been going?

Keybo Taylor 0:15:48

Well, like you just said, Gwinnett county is one of the most diverse counties in the nation. And I can’t remember. I think it’s like 150 something different nationalities here in Gwinnett county. Obviously, be nice if we could find somebody from each and every nationality and get them in here to represent the Gwynette county sheriff’s office. But that’s not possible. But what is possible is for me, my executive staff and command staff, to set a culture here that is welcoming for anybody, any culture, to come in and have a good, positive workplace within the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s office. So I think as long as you’re doing that and you’re getting good, qualified applicants coming in, we should continue to be able to diversify our staff and even upper management. I feel like we’ve done a very good job of diversifying the command staff, the executive command staff, and we’re just trying to get people at all different levels to provide me and my chief with the best information on how we best serve any and everybody here in Gwinnett county. Because I campaign on being the sheriff for everybody. So that’s what we’re looking to try to do.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:14

It’s interesting because dealing with gangs and human trafficking, I know that’s one of the areas that you all are working on. And with the diversity of the community, the asian population, every culture has different ways of having to deal with crime that happens within their community. Right. Some will step forward and report these things, others won’t because of fear of retaliation and stuff. When you’re dealing with gang human trafficking and implementing units to handle that, how do you approach that? How successful has it been and what are you doing there?

Keybo Taylor 0:17:54

Well, very good question. The first thing you got to do is you got to build trust. And in the process of building trust, you got to ask yourself the question, if we’re talking about gangs, what is it we got to start with? What is it about this kid that make him feel like he has to be a part of a gang? What is it about his environment, his home life? Who is around him? Or is there a significant threat that this person feels like they cannot deal with and live safely in their community without being involved in a gang? So that’s the first step. Second step is to, once you figure that out, finding people where they are all right, you don’t want to try to address these problems in an enforcement capacity all the time. So basically what we did is that we went in and we started trying to do other things to put ourselves in front of these kids in communities. And the third and the most important step is, and you said it yourself, people don’t report because they’re fearful. Okay? And a lot of people don’t trust law enforcement. And so when I came in, and again, I’ve talked about it from day one, is that we have to create a culture. I have to create a culture to where everybody feels safe with law enforcement. So when you go back and you look at elderly black people who probably have had some very negative experiences with law enforcement, then they’re inherently not going to be trustful. So we’re trying to change that. And that’s the reason why we set up our community outreach section so that we are out here in neighborhoods, and we’re having a presence in these neighborhoods that has been unrepresented before as far as law enforcement. So once you start to establish that trust and they see us in other capacities other than coming in to lock somebody up or do the negative things that is perceived in a neighborhood to keep them safe, we’re trying to build that trust. So once you build that trust, people feel comfortable with us. Then they will come in and open up more, give us more information so that even if the resources don’t come in from the sheriff’s office, we can collaborate with other resources, outside vendors, whatever it may take to say, hey, we need to go into this area, do ABC, because this is a problem. So we go in and we can look at the environment, we can look at the structure of the family. We can look at what’s going on within the school systems in those areas. We can address those areas. And once people feel safe, then maybe they don’t need to feel like they need to go and join a game. They can live productively without having the pressures of that, needing that type of added protection.

Rico Figliolini 0:20:55

Yeah. Does make a difference where you brought up and the environment that you’re in? Absolutely. And I think part of it is also, I think we’ve lost, to a degree, respect for people and for law enforcement. Not out of fear, but just respect that they’re doing a good job out there. They’re doing the best job they can out there. In an environment where you have to be the good guy, the good guy isn’t always able to work against the bad guy well enough. Maybe because there’s no rules when you’re a bad guy, but you have to follow rules when you’re a good guy, right?

Keybo Taylor 0:21:31

That’s correct. But the flip side to that is when we, as the good guys, become the bad guys once again, it’s like, okay, see, that’s what I’ve been talking about. You see what they’re doing. And unfortunately, we get to see so much more of the bad. But when you look at the number of the bad that we deal with, it’s such a small percentage of what people do out here in law enforcement every day. There’s millions of police contact with folks every day. And unfortunately, we get to hear about a handful of them.

Rico Figliolini 0:22:10


Keybo Taylor 0:22:11

They’re so egregious that you don’t have a choice. But, hey, that’s such a negative perception of what they’re doing. You got to address it. But as the leader of your agency, department, wherever you’re at in the food chain and law enforcement, it’s up to us to make sure we change that culture. And that’s what I’ve tried to do here, is make sure people have that feeling of comfort. Now we’re saying that, okay, does that mean that something won’t happen? No, it doesn’t mean that for sure. No matter whatever we do, things still happen. We still get bad players that make it through the system, into the system.

Rico Figliolini 0:22:48


Keybo Taylor 0:22:49

So then it becomes, how do we handle? Okay, are you trying to cover up the bad, or are you addressing the bad? And the approach that we’ve taken is that we address our bad head on, whatever. That may be one thing that I’m proud of, and I don’t have the numbers of the stats here in front of me, but the use of forces that we have. And I want to make a difference between what we call necessary force, excessive force, and when we’re using force, because we have to use force in certain situations. We wanted to take a look to see if the force was one necessary and if it was excessive. And we have done a great number, excuse me, a great job in reducing the number of unnecessary and excessive force complaints that were sustained, which means that, hey, a deputy went too far. And how do we address that? Is it a training issue? Is it a disciplinary issue to where this person, again, like I said at the very beginning of the show, we got players out here that don’t need to be in law enforcement. And we, as leaders, we have to identify those people.

Rico Figliolini 0:24:04

Yeah, no doubt. Listen, when you’re hiring enough staff to do the work of everything being equal, they’re not robots, right? They’re going to go out. There’ll be unique situations that they’ll come upon that wasn’t trained for maybe, or it may have been, but may have not have been emphasized because it rarely happens. But, like, you know, there’s TikTok, there’s Instagram. Things will blow up on a social media tool site, one thing, and make you look bad, where you may have hundreds if not thousands of other encounters where everything’s fine, in fact, where there are heroes to be made, if you will, instead of villains. Right in the system.

Keybo Taylor 0:24:48

Because it is a dangerous headline that day. Yes.

Rico Figliolini 0:24:56

As the sheriff’s department and such, do you ever handle? I mean, I guess not probably anything in the cybersecurity realm or do you get calls on any of that from citizens or related to technology theft or even retail theft? That’s not something.

Keybo Taylor 0:25:17

Yeah, we don’t necessarily handle it, but we do get the calls on it. And basically what we’ll do is we’ll refer it out to the appropriate agencies to handle it, whether or not we don’t have the resources to do cybersecurity. But that’s where your partnerships with the state and federal agencies who has a wider range that deals with these type of crimes, have units that that is all they do is deal with cyber type crimes. Then a lot of times we rely upon, and we depend upon them.

Rico Figliolini 0:25:54

You were saying before about training or about looking at altercations that might happen when you revisit that and you see why did that happen? Can we retrain that? Is there an ongoing, I’m assuming there’s some ongoing education programs for training for sheriffs, whether it’s encounters like that or for technology. So is there ongoing training for those types of things as well.

Keybo Taylor 0:26:20

Sure. The state requires, and I can’t remember how many hours every year, deescalation training. Okay. Use of force and deescalation. And on top of that, we emphasize, and we put in more training here, whether it be cit training, we emphasize, we put more emphasis on deescalation. So before it was just use of force, how to shoot, okay. Other things, man, when to use force, deadly force, those type of things. So I think it’s been a good idea by trying to incorporate more deescalation. I remember a movie one time, and I think it was a Steven Seagal movie, and I’m getting off a little bit, and we all know that he likes to beat up people in his movies. Well, there was one movie where he was injured, and he needed some herbs to get himself together, and he, you know, before, you know, got to learn how to heal before you learn how to do anything else. And I think that’s the same thing here. Before we learn to use force, we need to learn and put more emphasis on other techniques that we can do to de escalate a situation where we don’t even have to use force.

Rico Figliolini 0:27:40

Right. Agreed.

Keybo Taylor 0:27:42

So, too, let me say this, man. We’ve invested millions into upgrading our taser situations, body cams, all of these things that goes along with helping us to identify, recognize problems with force. So that’s something I’m very happy about.

Rico Figliolini 0:28:02

That’s cool. Technology has become, in the policing area, pretty big. I know that the local sheriffs here in peace, three corners are using, like, taser. I think it’s called taser ten, which is a more advanced taser gun. They’re using bola wraps. So this way they’re using tags on cars. This way they don’t have to do car chases. Pretty much. They could just gps track a car once it’s tagged. This way, there’s no high speed traffic, races across the city and streets and stuff. So technology is important, I’m sure. What about successful collaborations, partnerships, local businesses, other areas? Has the sheriff’s department done any collaboration or partnerships with private or public beyond what we’ve discussed?

Keybo Taylor 0:28:51

Yeah, there is nothing that I can do here without those partnerships. If you go back and you look, every year we do two things that’s major here, or actually three things. We have what we call our sheriff’s cup, which we bring in outside partners, and we have a football game to dress and talk about bullying, anti bullying and anti gang. We also do book bag drive every year to where we give out school supplies for students last year we were able to expand it for. We collected school supplies and necessary supplies for teachers also. But the biggest thing we do every year is we have a food drive in November, right before Thanksgiving. And our numbers in all of this, man, we’re upwards on the food drive to about feeding about 4000 people. So we have basically the largest school supplies. We have the largest probably food drive, one of the largest in the nation, I would say. But none of that is possible if we don’t have the cooperation between our outside vendors. So a lot of people that do business with the sheriff’s office, they have graciously provided time, money and resources into helping us out with those projects. I’ve gotten a lot of support from our county commissioners in sport warden. We do. And some of our initiatives out here, the churches, all the churches and other faith based leaders out here has been phenomenal as far as coming in, participating and making these events a success for us.

Rico Figliolini 0:30:44

Do you see ongoing, not ongoing, but with the evolution of the criminal, of the perpetrator, being able to continue to do what they’re doing, they’re changing the way they do things. Also the smash and grabs, the running into places like Lululemon and just stealing things and knowing that they probably won’t get arrested or won’t get stopped and stuff. So it’s all evolving. Do you see in the coming year or two challenges ahead that you’re prepared for or that you’re seeing that you want to be able to attend to those challenges and opportunities that you think the sheriff’s department needs to work with? Work towards solving?

Keybo Taylor 0:31:31

Yes, man. Like I was telling somebody the other day, if I had ran this thing all the way through, this last year would have been 40 years. And I’ve seen a lot of changes over the last 40 years, especially as it pertains to law enforcement. Okay, so in with that, and with that being said, we have to stay up on top of such things such as technology. Technology is not going to actually replace people, but it gives us a chance to where we can still do our job even if we are low on staff. Cameras, flock cameras, body cams, being able to connect with people that have security cameras around their homes whenever there’s a crime. Those type of things we’re also looking at, too. You mentioned artificial intelligence. We are looking at the fact that you got robots out here. Now, I know that at the PD, they use a lot of robots, especially on SWAT calls. That helps out with use of force. And we’re looking, taking a look to see if that is something that we could implement here in the jail system, robots. But the biggest thing that we have to stay up on top of as the criminals evolve, our training has to evolve. That’s the most important step, because no matter what type of technology you have, you still have to have people out here that can interpret what’s going on. So with good training, we get good intel. The better your intel is, the better you can put things in place to be a little bit more proactive. And then when things happen, if you got good intelligence, you got good starts on whatever, again, your investigations on.

Rico Figliolini 0:33:20

Do you see any challenges or differences in what’s going on with human trafficking in Gwinnett county? Has it evolved differently? Is there any new dangers to it, obviously, than the obvious?

Keybo Taylor 0:33:33

I mean, obviously it has. What I was very proud on is we just had a human trafficking conference here, I think it was in January, and that’s where we brought in people from all over the nation with the human trafficking council. They came to Gwinnett county and put on a symposium here for training here. So we were able to offer that out to a lot of the different local law enforcement officers here within Gwinnett county, as well know, educating and training up our own people here within side of our agency, too. But again, two things I go back to, and I say this, and I use the same model with human trafficking as I would with talking about bullying. Why would a person be put in a position to be trafficked? Okay, what is it about that environment? What’s going on in that person’s life, especially the younger juveniles out here? These people are 15, 14, 15, 16 years old. We have to start looking at what is putting these people in these positions to make sure that we’re staying on top of what we’re doing.

Rico Figliolini 0:34:41

Sure makes sense. Everything does come from the home. You almost wish you could take these kids when they’re two years old and bring them up a certain way outside that environment. We’ve touched on quite a bit. Is there anything that we’re missing that you want to share Keybo?

Keybo Taylor 0:35:03

I think the people of Gwinnett county that entrusted me with this know. Hopefully we know because, like I told you before, we went on a so called listening tour first to hear what the people of Gwinnett county was saying and what they felt like their needs were. And hopefully I’ve answered, been able to keep the promises on some of the things that we said that we were going to do. But we’re not done by no means is this a finished product. We still got more work to do. But I feel very good about the direction that the sheriff’s office is going in. Some of the major improvements that we made specifically within the jail to address certain things. And like I say, if people need more information, they can always go to the sheriff’s office website or they can go to my campaign website and pick up on more information.

Rico Figliolini 0:35:57

Excellent. Anyone that wants to visit the website, what is the website address?

Keybo Taylor 0:36:02

Actually, my campaign website is KeyboforSheriff.com. Okay. And then the other one is the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office.

Rico Figliolini 0:36:12

I think if anyone googles it, they’ll be able to find it easy enough.

Keybo Taylor 0:36:15

Yes, sir.

Rico Figliolini 0:36:17

And you are coming up for reelection in May. I think it’s May 21 is the election date. So anyone that wants to find out a little bit more about voting Gwinnett county or registering, which I think voter registration ends sometime in April. So I’ll have some of that information in our show notes so any of the listeners watching this or listening can check that out as well. Want to thank you, Keybo, for coming back for another interview with me to learn all the things that are happening and where you are with us.

Keybo Taylor 0:36:48

Thank you for doing a good job and keeping everybody informed out there.

Rico Figliolini 0:36:53 Thank you. Keybo. Hang with me for one moment as we sign off. Thank you, everyone for visiting with us today. Whether it’s on our Facebook pages, YouTube channel, this Twitter live feed entry, when this goes out, if you have any questions, post it in the comments. I’ll try to get some answers back to you on that. And again, thank you to EV Remodeling, Inc. For being a sponsor of this program and our corporate sponsor with our publications as well. So thank you all. Take care

Continue Reading


Exploring Israeli Innovation in the Smart City Sector with Einav Gabbay [Podcast]



A brief interview at Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners

Exploring Israeli Innovation in the Smart City Sector with Einav Gabbay

In a recent segment of our podcast, we had the pleasure of interviewing Einav Gabbay, a Business Development Coordinator in the mobile and smart city sector at the Israel Export Institute (IEI). The discussion centered on the IEI’s role in promoting global Israeli innovations and its recent visit to Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners.

Role of Einav Gabbay and the IEI:  In her capacity, Einav Gabbay facilitates partnerships and growth opportunities for Israeli startups in international markets, particularly in the mobile and smart city domains.

Event Overview at Curiosity Lab: The brief interview delved into the recent event organized by the IEI at Curiosity Lab, which was chosen as a significant venue for the United States delegation (one of three cities.) This choice underscores Curiosity Lab’s commitment to pioneering transportation, sustainability, and smart city technology. The event featured one-on-one meetings between startups and key stakeholders from the public and private sectors, aiming to explore and expand the horizons of smart city technologies.

Highlight on Participating Startups: Einav provided insights into the innovative Israeli companies that participated in the event at Curiosity Lab, emphasizing their contributions and potential impacts on smart city technologies:

  1. Adasky – specializes in developing advanced thermal imaging technologies for automotive applications. More about Adasky
  2. Gallery IP – focuses on integrated smart city solutions that enhance urban infrastructure and management. More about Gallery IP
  3. Connvas – offers a unique platform that streamlines communications for better customer engagement and service delivery. More about Connvas
  4. GIV Solutions – provides comprehensive solutions for smart building and urban environment management. More about GIV Solutions
  5. ITC – innovates in the internet technology space, specifically tailored towards enhancing connectivity across urban areas. More about ITC
  6. Tondo – develops IoT solutions focused on improving environmental sustainability and operational efficiency. More about Tondo
  7. WiseSight – specializes in AI-driven analytics for urban data, optimizing city operations and decision-making processes. More about WiseSight

Conclusion: The interview with Einav Gabbay highlighted the synergistic efforts between the Israel Export Institute and Curiosity Lab, showcasing how international collaboration can foster innovation in smart city technologies. The event provided a platform for Israeli startups to present their cutting-edge solutions and opened doors for potential partnerships that could lead to transformative impacts on urban landscapes globally.

Continue Reading

Arts & Literature

Wesleyan Artist Market 2024: Meagan Brooker



The Wesleyan Artist Market takes place in Peachtree Corners on April 26-27, 2024

Listeners are taken on a journey into the colorful art world through the eyes of high school art teacher Meagan Brooker. With 17 years of experience at Wesleyan School in Peachtree Corners, Brooker shares her passion for creativity, sharing how art has become a form of therapy and a source of inspiration in her life. From discussing her artistic process and inspiration to highlighting the importance of art for mental well-being, Brooker’s infectious enthusiasm for art will captivate and inspire listeners of all backgrounds. Brooker’s art will be displayed at the Wesleyan Artist Market 2024, April 26-27.

Tune in to discover the transformative power of creativity and art in this enlightening and uplifting Peachtree Corners Life Podcast episode.


00:00:00 – Introduction of Artist Meagan Brooker
00:01:32 – Teaching Art at Wesleyan School
00:04:00 – From Science to Art: Following My Creative Passion
00:08:42 – Balancing Creativity and Exhaustion
00:10:18 – Painting as Meditation and Process
00:13:53 – Tuscany Landscapes to Inspire Artists
00:17:29 – Finding Inspiration in the Unexpected
00:20:32 – The Healing Power of Art in Challenging Times
00:23:16 – The Pros and Cons of Social Media for Artists
00:25:49 – Embracing Digital Art Tools and AI in the Creative Process
00:29:08 – Exploring AI’s Role in the Creative Process
00:31:23 – Closing

Podcast Transcript

Rico Figliolini 0:00:00

Hi, everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life. This year, this month, today we’re doing an interview with an artist that’s going to be at the Wesleyan Artist Market, Meagan Brooker. So let’s say hi to Meagan. Hey, Meagan.

Meagan Brooker 0:00:13


Rico Figliolini 0:00:14

Thanks for being with us. Appreciate it. Thank you for being with us. Before we actually get into all of this, I just want to say thank you to our sponsor, EV Remodeling, Inc. They do a great job when it comes to remodeling, design and build, start from scratch up. Eli, him and his family live here in Peachtree Corners, does a great job. Lots of people know them. Anything from your bathrooms and kitchens to your whole house almost. So check them out at evremodelinginc.com. We appreciate the support of these podcasts. So now let’s get right into it because we’ve done this, I just did this interview a little while, a few weeks ago with two student artists that are going to be featured at Wesleyan Artist Market. Their stream is actually going to happen Wednesday. For Meagan and I to know you all that are listening won’t know which Wednesday that is, but it’s going to be on a Wednesday. Actually, before we go to press with the next issue of Peachtree Corners Life magazine, which has three profiles, including Meagan, of the Wesleyan artists, three of the artists that are going to be there. So this is a compliment to that. We’re going to be talking a bit about art and what inspires Meagan. So let’s get right into it. Meagan, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and maybe how you started at Wesleyan.

Meagan Brooker 0:01:36

Yeah. So I teach at Wesleyan school. I teach high school art. I teach all levels of AP photography, and I’ve been there for 17 years, which makes me feel very old.

Rico Figliolini 0:01:51

You’re not, though. You look fine.

Meagan Brooker 0:01:54

Thank you. So I went to the University of Georgia and went after getting my degree in undergrad of art education. I taught elementary art in Gwinnett county for two years. And then I did missions work for a year, actually, and was looking for a high school job because I thought the idea of the challenge of high school would be really interesting. And, yeah, I just love my job and I love Wesleyan. And I’m very grateful to be there because obviously I’ve been there for 17 years.

Rico Figliolini 0:02:29

Yes, it’s a great school. Wesleyan school is in the city of Peachtree Corners, and they do a fantastic job and they’re growing. I mean, they’re in the middle of actually a building project right now for their STEM building. So lots going on at Wesleyan. This is just one facet of what they do. So you’ve been there 17 years and you’re teaching high school students, I believe the high school, the upper level class. Upper school, yes. In particular, what are you teaching at this point? What subject or mediums are you working in?

Meagan Brooker 0:03:01

So currently I’m teaching all levels of 2d art. So drawing, painting, mixed media, anything that’s 2d from foundations all the way up to AP, the AP level, which is kind of college credit courses. And that includes AP photography. Previously I taught photography and way back in the day I used to teach 3d as well. But I love now that I get to specialize in two d. And then we have amazing teachers who teach focus on photography and focus on 3d. So we have a great team.

Rico Figliolini 0:03:33

Excellent. Cool. Let me ask you something, because as we grow up, as we’re young and we’re getting into school and we’re in elementary and middle school, we start discovering ourselves a little bit, right? We start discovering what we like, what we don’t like and stuff. Of course, people around us, including parents, may sometimes tell us what we should like and we shouldn’t like or what we should become. I know that you inspired early on to be an artist, to go down that route. Well, maybe not to be an artist, but to go down the route of the arts versus the science. So tell us, what inspired you? At which point did you decide you wanted to be creative versus being, let’s say, a doctor or something?

Meagan Brooker 0:04:17

Yeah. Well, that’s interesting, actually. I tell all my students, like, follow your innate gut and what fulfills you and stirs you up and makes you want to do more. I, from a very young age, was always wanting to paint, create, take classes, paint my ceiling in my bedroom, even though my mom wouldn’t let me paint furniture. I was always wanting to create or create my own space or do something creative. I had a very fast working creative brain and I came from a small county up in north Georgia, and there weren’t many opportunities in the arts. So in high school I had a great art teacher who was the first one who looked at my work and said, you know, you’re really talented. And I was, you know, so I got that encouragement and that fed in, which made me want to work harder. It made me want to do more and try more and get better. So I actually went to college and started in premed because I had good grades and was smart and my family was like, you, listen, go make some money. Don’t become a teacher.

Rico Figliolini 0:05:27

Not good money there.

Meagan Brooker 0:05:30

So I started off in premed and I just was bored to tears. And it was not life giving anyway. So I decided to switch to art and have never looked back ever since then. My family sometimes wishes I might have, but they see how life giving it is for me now and how innate it is and how much I’m able to do with the creativity. So it’s come around.

Rico Figliolini 0:05:56

So you’ve never really looked back and said, maybe I should put my brushes away and do something else.

Meagan Brooker 0:06:02

No, it’s too natural. I have too much of the creative and too much to put out there to stop. I’m not really that great at anything else either. Have too much fun with it to stop now.

Rico Figliolini 0:06:18

Right? Okay. And I can appreciate that. My parents wanted me to be an accountant, hated numbers, could never do that. And just not for me. My brain didn’t work on that side for that. But teaching art, this is one of the things I learned from my youngest, right? He says to me, I asked him, I said, what do you want to be? He says, I’d love to be a writer. I want to write. I want to write novels and stuff. So he’s creative, but he doesn’t want a job, that he has to write a lot during the day, because then all his creativity is gone by the end of the day. So how do you work that? How do you balance. It’s a life balance, right? Work life. How do you balance that creativity with the work that you do all day long with other kids? How do you do that?

Meagan Brooker 0:07:05

Honestly, that is probably the toughest part of my job. And I have two young boys, so that to complicate the.

Rico Figliolini 0:07:14

How old resources.

Meagan Brooker 0:07:18

One’S twelve, he’s in fifth grade and one is eight. And they go to Wesleyan with me, which is also a huge blessing. When I started off in art education and I got into the courses and started doing the practicum teaching, I loved being able to impart the knowledge of creativity and the natural working of all of the brain work that working with your hands does in every way. And it’s not about teaching methodology to me, as much as it is like pulling out this natural creativity. And I was always fascinated with art therapy. I considered studying that, but I think art is very much a natural therapy. And there’s so many studies about how when we’re working with our hands, how our brains calm down, they can think better. They’re clearly so. Even just a 30 minutes break in the middle of the day or an hour break to work with your hands and not have to just use a different part of your brain is so good for anybody. You think about how it works with four year olds. It’s the same with 80 year olds. Being able to use my creativity during the day, it is exhausting because I feel like being asked 20 questions every five minutes. I do come home depleted, but at night, when the boys go down, when I can, I will go down and just let it all out on canvas. I will say, currently, my work is not the most conceptual. It’s more reactive, but it’s kind of more guttural and things that I. It’s emotional in a way of things that I’m reacting to in my current life. And I feel like most artists do that. It’s like where you are, your work is breathing out of where you are.

Rico Figliolini 0:09:17

I think that makes sense, right? Because inspiration is in the moment when you’re doing these things. It’s not like most artists plan these things out. Sometimes you may have in your head, but you’re working in the medium you’re working in. It could appear different, and you’re trying to rough it and do different piece from it. When you are like that, when you have to be in your space, if you will. I know writers, for example, will write with the door closed, if you will, and they know that pages and chapters will go away at some point because they’re just getting into that space. Do you find yourself doing that with art? How’s the process? Do you sketch first and then go to the medium that you choose for it in the paper or the surface that you want to put it on? How do you do that part?

Meagan Brooker 0:10:04

That’s a really good question. I love sketching and planning in my current stage, just don’t have that much time. So I tend to work out my process as part of the process and build up my layers and build it up until it’s a complete being. So the art is very much a process as opposed to being a super planned, which is my personality, more free spirited by nature. And so sometimes I will write verses or quotes or things that are on my mind kind of in the canvas as I’m going as a meditation. And then I’ll build the color, texture, and design up as part of that meditation of whatever is on my heart at the time. And the art will kind of come out of that longing or prayer or moment that I’m having there. I do small ones that are, I call them little loves, but they’re all based off of an attribute or a thought, like prayer, contentment, love. That they’re kind of prayed over in a way.

Rico Figliolini 0:11:21

I know there’s one behind you, but I put one of your pieces on the feed right now. Tell us a little bit about that one.

Meagan Brooker 0:11:29

This one. If I had a gallery show, which I hope to one day, I would call it something like an affinity for winged things. I’ve always had loved angels. I love birds, butterflies. There’s something about them that represents such hope and freedom. And so the past few years, I’ve done quite a few butterflies. And so the one on the screen here, I love the color tone in it, but I recently started adding in kind of a duo tone background with the gold and white. That almost represents a duality of. It. Kind of brings in a contrast of emotion, if you will.

Rico Figliolini 0:12:11

I see two different color spaces. A border, ragged border. Same way with. I see this. Right. This is another piece that you’ve done. Same type of ridging, same type of look. Duality. Two different worlds, two places. What were you doing here in this one?

Meagan Brooker 0:12:33

Yeah. Similar to this one here behind me. I feel like there’s always a tension in our humanity of light and dark. Right. There’s a tension we’re pulled between right and wrong, light and dark, hope and failure, or anything that could pull us down easily if we don’t pull toward the light. So when combining these hopeful creatures like birds and butterflies, with that tension, to me, it’s this representative of choosing the hope, choosing freedom, choosing to do what you can do, to move yourself to a higher purpose and to truth and to light and to all the things that God offers us in this life. So it’s just kind of representing like, yes, sometimes life’s really hard, but there is hope.

Rico Figliolini 0:13:29

Let’s go to something a little different that you shared with us. This one, it’s a bit different than the other two. Can you tell us a little bit about this one?

Meagan Brooker 0:13:39

Yeah. This one was inspired by, actually, Tuscany and the green hills of Tuscany. I love traveling. I love Italy, especially has my heart. I’m actually taking a group of the high schoolers to France this summer, and I’ve not been this part of France, so I’m excited about that. But I often will recreate images or know certain landscapes of pictures that I take when I’m traveling. Not all overseas, some here, and recreate them. And so this is kind of representing, loosely, the villas that you’ll see dotted all over the hillscape. The landscape of. And Tuscany is dotted with farmland everywhere. And these are just hilly wineries and orchards.

Rico Figliolini 0:14:29

So this was done in acrylic? Correct. And you chose that over. Do you work mostly in acrylic now, or do you work in.

Meagan Brooker 0:14:38

I love oil, love watercolor. I love mixed media. For artist market, I choose to do acrylic in the same vein. And I hope that you don’t hear this as an excuse is more. It’s just a stage of life where it’s quicker. The acrylic, I’m able to move quickly and work quicker and layer in it and get the effect, because I don’t necessarily have time to sit and make 30 oils in this stage of life. So acrylic offers me the ability to work a little quicker in it.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:10

Okay. And this particular piece, I mean, they’re all relatively big pieces too, right? Like 30 x 30 or something along those lines.

Meagan Brooker 0:15:17

That one’s huge. That one is, I believe it was 40 x 60. It’s about the size of this one behind me. And a friend bought it for their piano room in their house. So it looks really good on that big wall.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:29

Nice. When people do buy your stuff, do you recommend certain framings for your pictures, or you let them do their own thing?

Meagan Brooker 0:15:37

Usually they have something in mind that fits their aesthetic, but I love float. Personally, I think float frames look so good.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:46

So when people buy your paintings like this, I’ve asked this of other artists, how do you feel about it? You’ve done it. It’s not like it’s the 30th piece that you’ve done of the same exact thing. So you’ve spent your time doing it, and it’s leaving you. It’s almost like a baby. It’s going away. It’s going to be in someone’s house. How do you feel about that?

Meagan Brooker 0:16:09

This new series with the duality are some of my favorite new ones. And to see one of my favorite parts of doing work for clients, when people are choosing work, like at artist markets as opposed to galleries or collected and stuff like that, is seeing people’s reaction to it and why they choose it. That is such a precious moment, because I think every artist, or most artists at least, pour so much of themselves into it. And to your point, some of them have trouble letting go of it because they become precious. But when they stop in their tracks and have a visceral moment of like, oh, my mom just died, and she loves birds, and that’s her favorite color, and they’ll just start, my goodness, there are tactile things that they will hold on to that become meaning to them, that may not be the eye assigned to it, but it doesn’t matter. That’s what the beauty of art is. The expression of the color, the movement, the feeling, and the hope that people will hold on to.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:16

Wow. Yeah. I can’t imagine that feeling. I’m not an artist, so I can’t imagine that. I’m a graphic designer, but not an artist, so I don’t know how that feels. I do know how it feels to put together a magazine and send it to the printer and then have it come back in a palette of, like, 10,000 copies or something. I don’t know how that feels.

Meagan Brooker 0:17:39

That’s a relief, is what that’s called.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:42

Yes. In fact, I have two deadlines this week, so it’s going to be a relief when this week is done. Yeah, it’s just one of those crazy weeks, actually. So we talked about keeping fresh and continuing to evolve. Well, actually, we didn’t talk about evolving as an artist. You touched upon it a little bit. But how do you do travel? You do find, like you said, Tuscany was a great, beautiful landscape to be inspired by. You can’t go wrong with Tuscany. Right? Do you find inspirations in some of the simpler things in life or places that you didn’t even think inspiration would come from, or moments? Does any of that happen sometimes?

Meagan Brooker 0:18:23

Yeah. Sometimes I think back to COVID, and we were so limited, and I’m a mover and a shaker. I don’t sit still well to a fault. And so having to sit still kind of shook me. But I found myself grabbing my camera and going out in the beautiful spring light and catching these abstracted flowers that were blooming across the street and the way that the light hit them or life, noticing trees in our yard that were blooming. And I hadn’t noticed how beautiful they were at the time. Things that I hadn’t stopped long enough to appreciate. And, of course, the beauty of my children and their just innocence at their ages. And so just taking time to stop that makes me want to highlight the beauty of life as opposed to the hardship. Because anytime we can have a moment, and if my art is a moment to stop and be like, okay, let me just take a beat and find some hope and find a little moment of truth and hope in our day.

Rico Figliolini 0:19:33

Okay. COVID was an interesting period. Right? It was a bad time for many families, but it was also, in some ways, a good moment in time because things stopped. We were forced to stop what we were doing. So it was so bad at one point that if you remember the supply chain issues, ships stopped delivering, and in fact, the sea woke up more. The creatures in the sea, the whales, things were happening, air was a little cleaner. It was just different time. Right. So I can see that quiet. But you’re basically forced into doing things that we weren’t. We were forced to stop doing what we’re doing. The inspiration, I guess, can be found in many places. You’re teaching lots of kids through the years, 17 years of teaching at Wesleyan. I’m sure there’s been talented, very talented kids across that time frame. Is there any story, inspirational time, particular student or group of students or class that you felt was a moment that you want to remember? Maybe that inspired you, maybe that inspired other kids. Maybe there was something going on at that moment, or maybe even creativity out of students that you didn’t think would be creative because maybe art wasn’t their thing.

Meagan Brooker 0:20:54

Well, for one thing, that just because we came out of the conversation of just talking about COVID is how important art was to the ones who had it during that time. Teaching hybrid was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And when we were, like, on camera and trying to teach art from home and all of that. But I have multiple stories of students who. Art was their lifeline at the time, because whether home was not safe for them or whether they just needed to be out and be social or whatever it was, art was their way of their identity, of finding some way of expression that pulled them out of the anxiety, the mire, the scariness, the loneliness of the time, and a way to express themselves and kind of think outside of themselves. When you’re so glued to your phone or your computer trying to do a thing, art pulled them back out. So that was a beautiful thing and a testament to the purpose, I think, of our dedication, and I think what comes to mind, and I’ll shout out to my current AP art class, who are just, they’re so much fun, and we’re actually having our art show next week, so I’m excited about that. And they’re so creative. But I think that in this culture of, again, what we’re seeing post COVID is a lot more anxiety, a lot more pressure, a lot more peer pressure. The social media is out of control, and culture has a lot of expectations. And I think that what is beautiful is seeing the kids respond to these pressures through their art and subverting them with truth and with showing their own personality and identity in a way that they wouldn’t in social media. So their own personality and their truth is coming out. So they’re becoming more confident through their expression of art in a way that they wouldn’t without it. Right. So it’s like, oh, I am good at something.

Rico Figliolini 0:23:01

Right? No, I get where you’re going. You’re right. I could see that. But I can also see social media is good and bad. Right? Instagram, TikTok. I mean, there’s different various levels. If you allow yourself to scroll for 30 minutes, you’re losing a bit of your life. Maybe. But there are artists out there that actually share online also, and they use that medium to be able to share their art, whether it’s ceramics they’re doing or whether it’s actually watching them create something in the moment. Yeah, because that’s TikTok. I mean, does that. Right. Instagram, to a lesser degree, I think. But you could be watching an artist, a street artist, or just an artist in a studio painting, sketching the whole process for an hour or two, which is kind of interesting, right? Because you get to see the creative process. Most people don’t see that. They see the finished piece. They don’t know what Meagan Brooker to make that piece or what. Brie Hill, who was one of the students I interviewed, what it took her to make a painting and what she invested in that painting. Or Esther Cooper, who’s the other student I interviewed who does creative pastries. Right. That’s a whole different long. There’s no longevity to that. It expires at some point, you either eat it or it goes bad, but in the moment, it’s a good looking piece, maybe. Right. Talking about 3d art. More than that. Right. The scent of it and stuff. So I could see how social media can be helpful in some ways with some students.

Meagan Brooker 0:24:33

Yeah. I think with social media, we have so much at our fingertips now we can appreciate art in a whole new way, because, like you said, you can see the process. You can understand it more, but it also makes you want to try more. And there’s always going to be cynics. There are going to be people who will try to poke a hole in it. But I think we will be students until we die. I think that’s part of the creative part of teaching. Like, we always have more to learn. And so that’s what’s so fun about social media, is being able to go on and try something new or to see new work, because we’re to be inspired by something outside of us which broadens our perspective and opens our worldview a little bit.

Rico Figliolini 0:25:22

Yeah. Now, just to stick with technology a little bit, because there are students that use Photoshop, procreate, other digital products and software where you can create online in layers, brushes. We create your own brush palette, if you will. Do you delve into any of that? Do you see students using that as part of the process of what they’re doing? Are they using it even to pre plan a physical, tactile piece of art? What’s the final piece?

Meagan Brooker 0:25:59

It’s such a big question right now in the art world, and my co worker Drew Phillips has actually done a lot of research and given some talks on this. I currently do not teach any AI in what I am teaching, but I see the value of. Well, also I will say there’s inherent AI almost in everything now, like in my AP photography, and know there’s always the option of generative fill. But AP doesn’t allow any type of AI, but I think the use of it for know. So speaking of Rehill, she’s one of my students. She’s amazing. She just did with a girl being lifted up by doves with a sheet and ropes. That’s hard to take a picture of. She just finished it yesterday and it’s stunning. So maybe we can do a recap and show the finished piece. Not yesterday, today, but it’s hard to take a reference picture for that, to get her full concept in there. And we made it happen. But you could put that kind of prompt into AI and have it kind of create a reference for you, but then you are drawing it. So there’s a lot of debate about that and the crossover of what’s allowed. And, but, and there’s a lot of people who think that AI is going to take over a lot of jobs. But I’ll tell you, and this is coming from conversations with people who are working with Microsoft, AI creatives will never be out of a job because AI needs creatives to be able to create the prompts to do the job. And so the people who can think outside of the box and creatives, there will always be a place for us.

Rico Figliolini 0:27:45

Yeah, there’s so many forms of AI too, right? There’s language based, generative, there’s very various levels of AI. So you’re right though, because you need to be able to, I’ve played in it a little bit as far as writing and stuff like that, and even dolly and some of the visual elements and even a different form of sora, which is more video based. Right. And it’s not everything that people make it out to be. It takes the process of doing it almost, like you said, in some ways you have to be an artist to be able to pull out from that anything artistic that makes sense. Yeah. So it’s not as easy as people think. I get that question sometimes. Can’t you just do this in Photoshop? AI is in there. It’s like, no, you can’t just do that. You have to really think about what you’re doing here. It’s never going to look like what know, you could go into AI and you could go chat GPT and Dolly and tell it what you want and say, good, close, you got to where I need it. Add this and this, but don’t remove that and it’ll give you something completely different. So I know the prompts might be a little, you have to work the prompts the right way and stuff, but yeah, AI is a good tool to derive inspiration from. I think I agree with you there. You’re going to need creative people still, but I’m sure that’s still within the next five years that probably will be part of being taught in the creative process. Right. How to use AI as an intern or apprentice, if you will, for yourself in some ways. So you’re going to be at the wesleyan artist market. You’re going to be showcasing some of your work. I’m assuming some of the work that I showed, that we showed may be there. What type of work will you be actually showing at the show?

Meagan Brooker 0:29:33

Yeah, I’m doing some more of the, like what we were talking about with the dual duality and kind of playing around with that more, trying out some new subjects and content, but mostly that. But I want to try out some landscapes and build in some more looser sunset sunrises along with the birds and butterflies and see what I can turn out there.

Rico Figliolini 0:29:59

Cool. Anything you want to share with us that we haven’t touched base, I really.

Meagan Brooker 0:30:06

If you haven’t been out to the artist market, I highly recommend it. Okay, again, I’ve been at Wesleyan for 17 years, and I’ve been displaying at the artist market for 17 years. And believe me, I’ve grown a lot. I would be embarrassed to show you what I sold the first few years. I think my first year was actually, I taught ceramics, and so I did some ceramics, but I’ve grown a lot. But the funds of the market come back to the students. So it funds the fine arts and so the marching band, the visual arts, the theater, and so it comes back to the students there at Wesleyan. But beyond that, it is such a high level event put on by volunteers from the school, which is almost hard to believe because it’s such a professional looking event and it’s indoors. It’s one of my favorite things that we do throughout the year and I’m so grateful for those who put it on. So come out to see us. It’s a really fun event for the family.

Rico Figliolini 0:31:10

It’s going to be April 26 through the 27th, so that Friday, Saturday, and if you want to find out about it, it’s Wesleyan artist market. Just google that and I’ll show right up. Do you want to leave a last maybe word for any aspiring artists or educators? Anything you want to leave advice for them before we end the show?

Meagan Brooker 0:31:32

Yeah, I think if you feel like the need to create, whether that be writing, singing, writing out songs, it doesn’t matter if you’re good at it. The act of creating is fulfilling and there’s a reason that you are stirred to do it. And I think personally, I think that’s God working in you to bring you to a higher light and a higher purpose. And so just do your thing. It doesn’t matter what everybody else thinks, as long as it’s for you and for him or for whoever else you want to see it. Just let your light shine.

Rico Figliolini 0:32:03

Cool. We’ve been talking to Meagan Brooker. She’s a 17 year veteran teacher at Wesleyan school, teaching high school kids about art, and she’s going to be showing at the Wesleyan Artist Market. So stay with me for a second, Meagan. I want to just say thank you to our sponsor, EV Remodeling, Inc. Does a great job design, build home remodeling, kitchen, bathrooms, everywhere that you can think of. Eli and his family live here in Peachtree Corners. They’re just wonderful people. You should check them out. Evremodelinginc.com. So check those out and thank you, Meagan. I appreciate you being with us.

Meagan Brooker 0:32:38 Yeah, my pleasure.

Continue Reading

Arts & Literature

Wesleyan Artist Market 2024: Students Bree Hill and Esther Cooper



The Wesleyan Artist Market takes place in Peachtree Corners on April 26-27, 2024

Join us as we dive into the creative worlds of Esther Cooper and Bree Hill, two young student artists showing at this year’s Wesleyan Artist Market with their unique talents and passions. From Esther’s tasty cake pops to Bree’s emotionally charged artwork, we explore the stories behind their inspiration, dedication, and drive to showcase their creativity. Listen in as we discuss the power of self-expression and passion in the world of art and baking. Tune in for a dose of inspiration and creativity that will leave you eager to explore your own artistic talents and passions. Hosted by Rico Figliolini

Wesleyan Artists’ Market Website: https://www.artistmarket.wesleyanschool.org/
Bree’s Instagram: @bubblycreationsbybreehill

00:00:00 – Introduction
00:01:37 – Expanding Artistic Horizons at Wesleyan Market
00:03:38 – Discovering Passion and Mediums in Art Creation
00:05:13 – Expressing Emotions Through Art and Beyond
00:10:53 – Preparing for the Artist Market at Wesleyan
00:13:24 – Finding Inspiration Through Music and Fantasy Books
00:16:01 – Dreams of Opening a Family-Friendly Bakery
00:17:42 – Interviewing a Creative Baker and Graphic Designer
00:19:43 – The Art of Evolving a Painting
00:21:45 – Baking Creations for Holidays and Parties
00:24:08 – Bree’s Artistic Process and Finding Joy in Sculptures
00:26:37 – Art Commissions and Wesleyan Artist Market Update
00:28:20 – Closing Thoughts

Podcast Transcript


Rico Figliolini 0:00:01

Hi everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life here in the city of Peachtree Corners, Gwinnett County. I have a couple of great guests with me today. They are student artists at the upcoming Wesleyan Artist Market. But before I introduce them quickly, let me just say thank you to EV Remodeling, Inc. Who is a sponsor of not only this podcast, but the publications that we do, including Peachtree Corners magazine and Southwest Gwinnett magazine. So I want to thank them for being a strong sponsor, a community member as well. And if you want to find out more about EV remodeling Inc. Just go to their website, which is easy, evremodelinginc.com. So thank you for that. Our guest today is on the left. Depending on how you’re viewing this, Esther Cooper from 7th grade. Say hi, Esther.

Esther Cooper 0:00:48


Rico Figliolini 0:00:49

And Bree Hill from 10th grade. Hey Bree.

Bree Hill 0:00:52


Rico Figliolini 0:00:53

Both from Wesleyan school. And for one, she’s going to be at the Wesleyan Artist Market the second time, I believe. And for another, this is her first time. So let’s start with Esther Cooper, who’s interested in culinary arts. So, Esther, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Esther Cooper 0:01:13

Well, like you said, my name is Esther and I really enjoy baking and I’m going to be selling probably mostly cake pops at the artist market. So I’ve been working on kind of perfecting that technique for a while, so I think they’ll be pretty good.

Rico Figliolini 0:01:30

Cool. Bree Hill, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Bree Hill 0:01:35

My name is Bree Hill. This is my second year in the Wesleyan Artist Market. I have experience in different things with watercolor, acrylic paint, oil paint, and even mixed media and pottery. I’ve done animals in different subjects.

Rico Figliolini 0:01:53

Excellent. So last year, if I remember correctly from what I’ve read, you participated and submitted ceramic and clay sculptures last year.

Bree Hill 0:02:01


Rico Figliolini 0:02:02

Cool. And this year you’re going to do something a bit different, right? Using different medium. You want to tell us a little bit about why you chose that medium to introduce this year?

Bree Hill 0:02:12

So I did a little bit of acrylic paint last year. I was more focusing on ceramics because I did different animals like elephants and dogs, swans, that sort. But I have the most experience at acrylic paint and I wanted to expand the things that I did. Like I’ve done graphite self portraits so far. I will use acrylic with cars, flower bouquets. I wanted to show people something that I’ve been doing for a long time.

Rico Figliolini 0:02:47

Okay, cool. Artists can do whatever they please as long as it inspires right, Esther, let’s talk a little bit about what you’re doing. The type of art themes that inspire you best, what inspires you. What do you look at when you’re thinking of culinary arts and deciding what to make or bake?

Esther Cooper 0:03:06

Well, I would say that I’m not going to lie. I actually do draw a little bit of inspiration from baking shows. That’s actually how I kind of got started with baking. Like, I saw these baking shows and I was like, wait, this is so cool. So I kind of picked up baking. So I get inspired by that. I get inspired by Pinterest.

Rico Figliolini 0:03:29

So you’re on Pinterest also building a board.

Esther Cooper 0:03:32

Not really building a board.

Rico Figliolini 0:03:34

I just scrolling through.

Esther Cooper 0:03:36


Rico Figliolini 0:03:38

All right, that’s fine. You have to discover your passion and your inspiration in a lot of different places. Right. When you’re creating your treats, your sweets, is there particular ingredient, favorite ingredients you have that you like.

Esther Cooper 0:03:59

I mean. Can’t go wrong with?

Rico Figliolini 0:04:00

No, no. Can’t go wrong there. Probably sugar too, I would imagine, but, yeah, for sure. All right, cool. Bree on yours, shifting from sculpture to painting, obviously you’ve used different mediums along the way. How do you explore what you want to do in oil painting or watercolors? Do you decide what medium you want? Depending on what inspires you, depending on the picture you’re doing, how does that work?

Bree Hill 0:04:27

It depends on what I’m painting. So normally, if it’s like a plant nature of some sort, I will use watercolor for different depths because I like layering. If it’s normally a person, I would either use pencil or acrylic paint and more. If it can turn into three d, I would effectively use clay.

Rico Figliolini 0:04:51

Got you. There was a part where I think you mentioned about expressing yourself without judgment. You mentioned that to be able to share time, creating art helps to communicate something that you feel or that you want to express that can’t be expressed in words. Is that something that you continue to strive to? How do you see yourself doing that?

Bree Hill 0:05:16

I have a really hard time explaining and reiterating myself in different ways, so I chose to do it through art. I like to choose an emotion and draw what I think that emotion would look like, what that person would look like in that emotion, or in that moment.

Rico Figliolini 0:05:35

All right, well, let me bring up one of your pieces. Actually, bear with me a second. We pop that out. Put that there. That’s one of your pieces, I believe, right? Yes. So when you drew that, when that came to you, when you inspired to do that, what are you trying to.

Bree Hill 0:05:55

Share here I was trying to show I chose a pretty complicated emotion because I feel like not a lot of people can put it into words. And this one was grief, where it’s slowly, each day, you wake up thinking about it, and you’re slowly getting tired. You’re getting exhausted of it. So she’s kind of laying there limp almost. And you always have a friend. You reach out to something, vent happens. So those are birds representing each thing. It’s not a finished artwork, but definitely in the middle of it.

Rico Figliolini 0:06:30

Gotcha. Okay, cool. Come back here now. So it mean. And that was the medium used. It was pencil.

Bree Hill 0:06:40

Yes, sir.

Rico Figliolini 0:06:43

Esther, we’ll come back to you for a little bit. When you’re doing desserts, baking, you’re in the kitchen, I’m assuming, right. And you’re doing your stuff, I’m assuming. You start almost off with the recipe. Right. But do you ever deviate from that recipe? Do you ever do something a little different, add a little bit more, a little less? What do you do?

Esther Cooper 0:07:06

Well, sometimes I do eyeball things. Not too much, because baking is kind of a science, but I think it’s definitely decorating, where I get very spontaneous, like, I’ll pull out all the sprinkles or the different ways to decorate a cake up.

Rico Figliolini 0:07:29

All right, that’s cool. And you were saying you find inspiration from tv shows in Pinterest. I’m assuming that life, any artist, when you go to a place that exhibits art or, like, a bakery, do you find things that, as you’re looking through, do you find inspiration there? Do you even buy the stuff to taste it and see how it came out and what you can do with that?

Esther Cooper 0:07:54

Much to my parents dismay, yes. They take me to a bakery, and I’m like, mom, I got to learn how to make that.

Rico Figliolini 0:08:05

That’s funny. True. Sweet tooth could do it, I guess. So when you’re finding, I guess, in your art is one thing, I guess, when you know the artist, maybe. But also, are there any particular bakers that you’re aware of or tv or personalities that you like?

Esther Cooper 0:08:25

There’s this guy named Jacques Torres who’s on this show called nailed it. I don’t think. I always thought he was pretty cool. He was always very good. Had a very good expertise in his field, which I think is pretty cool.

Rico Figliolini 0:08:42

It’s good to have someone to look up to, to emulate a little bit. Bree, on your everyday life, walking through school, walking home, or however, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. I don’t know. Do you do other things besides art. Like, are you into sports?

Bree Hill 0:09:04

I am a volleyball player.

Rico Figliolini 0:09:06

You’re what? Softball?

Bree Hill 0:09:08

A volleyball player.

Rico Figliolini 0:09:09

Oh, volleyball player. Okay, cool. So are you on the team then, or is this intramurals?

Bree Hill 0:09:15

This is year round volleyball, so it’s club.

Rico Figliolini 0:09:18

Oh, club volleyball. Okay. So when you’re out there and doing athletic work, do you find inspiration in what you’re doing there? Do you look at people and look at them as inspiration for maybe the next drawing or the next scene that you life?

Bree Hill 0:09:36

Definitely. And not just volleyball as well? If I travel anywhere, I will always have, like, a mini pocket watercolor to draw whatever scenes in front of me to kind of capture the moment, because I feel like it represents everything better than a picture because it’s how you saw the moment. It’s like how you read what was happening rather than it just being, oh, here’s a picture of what I saw.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:01

Right. The way you feel, I guess. So. I’m imagining you’re carrying a book and some watercolors with you.

Bree Hill 0:10:10


Rico Figliolini 0:10:11

Okay, so no digital stuff for you, or do you use an iPad too sometimes or one of those.

Bree Hill 0:10:19

Not really an iPad. No.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:21

Okay, so you’re not into Photoshop or using brushes on any of that procreate or anything?

Bree Hill 0:10:28

So I take my own pictures for my artwork. So the one you just showed up is actually a picture of me. I photographed it, and then I had to Photoshop some things with lighting and stuff. Then I drew it.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:41

Oh, wow. Excellent.

Bree Hill 0:10:44

It’s a long process.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:48

No, that’s good. You got to start somewhere, and using yourself as a subject is even better. You know what to do with yourself, right? That’s cool. So have you put together all your artwork yet for wham. For this year, or are you still working on stuff?

Bree Hill 0:11:06

Definitely still working. I have my inventory log done, and I have all the materials for it. But actually doing it is where it’s kind of a slow process, but definitely more than half are completed.

Rico Figliolini 0:11:19

All right, cool. Now, a little different for Esther, I bet, because it’s not like you can work on yours in advance unless you’re going to freeze it. So what’s the game plan for you? Are you going to be doing well.

Esther Cooper 0:11:32

We were talking about taking discretionary day, the day before the artist market, so I could just bake.

Rico Figliolini 0:11:39

I don’t wait. Discretionary days are those days you’re allowed to take off?

Esther Cooper 0:11:45

Yes, sir. You only get. Is it two, Bree?

Bree Hill 0:11:49

It’s two.

Rico Figliolini 0:11:51

You are invested in your art. I can tell. Putting those days off into that, that’s good. So you’re going to be working away in the kitchen, I’m assuming, getting things ready?

Esther Cooper 0:12:04

Yes, sir.

Rico Figliolini 0:12:05

All right, cool. What other interests do you have? I obviously, Bree does volleyball and sports. What interests do you have?

Esther Cooper 0:12:17

I played trumpet. I was in the Wesleyan marching band this fall. I participated in basketball this winter, and I have in the past participated in musicals, and I plan to try out again next year. It’s just this year, I want to do the artist market this year.

Rico Figliolini 0:12:38

Okay. All right, cool. Interesting. The Wesleyan student always is multifaceted, that’s for sure. So many different things are going on. I think I interviewed someone that had. She was doing club sport, school sport, and she had other things going on. It’s just like, I don’t even know how many hours in the day you have to do that. So when you’re finding inspiration, is there a special place or music you like to listen to? Other one can go.

Esther Cooper 0:13:07

Well, I just like to walk around my backyard a lot. It’s a fairly big backyard. I just walk around and kind of think about all sorts of things. But I definitely draw a lot of inspiration because it has kind of a forest area, so there’s a lot around me and a lot to draw inspiration from.

Rico Figliolini 0:13:30

So you’re not listening to anything. You’re just listening to nature and just walking around the backyard like that. Now, Bree, you’re laughing, but what about you? Where do you draw your inspiration from music, or where do you do that?

Bree Hill 0:13:44

So I actually have over 40 playlists of different emotions and things, and they all have, like, a description of a scenario or something. I’m an avid reader of fantasy, so I’m quite literally always thinking of something new and something that isn’t really realistic.

Rico Figliolini 0:14:06

Okay. No, I’m not surprised then. Okay. When you were talking about emotion and drawing that out, that almost makes sense. That segues a little bit into one of my other questions. So you like to read? Sounds like fantasy novels. YA novels, I’m assuming. Do you have a few favorites that you would recommend?

Bree Hill 0:14:26

Probably the caraval series and the Lunar Chronicles are most likely my and angel fall. Those are my three favorite series in fantasy.

Rico Figliolini 0:14:39

Ya and playlists. Any particular artists on them that you’d like to share?

Bree Hill 0:14:46

Beyonce. I have, like, 30. I mainly listen to r and B. We’ll keep that as flat ground because artists.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:02

That’s cool. Okay, Esther, what about you? Are there any books or types of books or titles that you like that you would share?

Esther Cooper 0:15:12

I also do love to read. I’m kind of basic in some of my favorites. Like, I love the Harry Potter and the Percy Jackson series, but there’s this really good book that I read in this kind of group, and it was called Echo. So if any of y’all are looking for book suggestions, I would really recommend it because it’s very good. But it’s probably one of my favorite books.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:35

Actually. The Harry Potter. Have you heard that Warner Brothers is actually going to do a tv series now of the Harry Potter books, redoing the books into a tv? They are, yeah, ten episodes per book. It’s going to take them forever to get this done, but, yeah, they’re coming back. And JK Rowling is apparently all for it. I just heard that the other day. My kids grew up on it. I used to read it to them when they were younger until they got old enough to read it, because that’s how long, right. But, yeah, it’s a cool books. So what about playlists, then, Esther? What do you like listening to?

Esther Cooper 0:16:14

I like to listen to classical music a lot, but I really listen to pretty much all genres.

Rico Figliolini 0:16:21

Okay. That’s good. Eclectic. It’s good to be able to listen to different songs and different music. As far as we talked about inspiration a little bit and stuff. But let’s talk a little bit about. Let’s go back to Esther. I know that one of your dreams, apparently, is to have your own bakery. You’re still a young person, so who knows what may happen and transpire over time. But when you think of your dream bakery, what would you want in that dream bakery?

Bree Hill 0:16:54

Baked goods, probably. I don’t know. I’ve always really loved children, like, really young children. So I’d want it to be a place where parents could come with their young children and just kind of have a good time. Kind of be like a cozy little spot. I don’t know, like a family friendly place.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:19

Definitely. No, I can say that, yeah, that sounds good. When you travel, you’re in 7th grade, but have you gone anywhere to other cities that you may have stopped at a bakery or that might have inspired you in some way like that?

Esther Cooper 0:17:38

I do live by some very good bakeries. There’s some nearby. They can get very creative, which is something that obviously is very necessary for this sort of thing.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:55

Did you ever think of maybe seeing if you could get part time job working? I’m not necessarily, like, at a chocolatier or anything like that, but, yeah, that could be something you could do, I guess it’s funny because are you familiar with Peterbrook chocolatier?

Esther Cooper 0:18:12


Rico Figliolini 0:18:12

In the Forum okay. Yes. Jeff, who manages the place, is very interesting person. He has summer camps usually, but he also hires high school kids to work for him when they want to work, I guess. And they’ll do anything in chocolate. It’s just totally amazing. And the things they come up with, I don’t even know how they do them. Bree on to you when you’re doing your artwork.

Bree Hill 0:18:38

I do layouts. I do magazine layouts. I do graphic design work like that. I’m not an illustrator or artist by far, but I do layouts and stuff. And sometimes when I get into something, I almost feel like I’m doing clay. I start with clay, and I’m molding it into a shape. And that 72 page magazine is getting molded right on the screen as I’m putting it together without a mockup, almost, which is not the way you should do these things, but this is the way I do it.

Rico Figliolini 0:19:14

Right. Do you find yourself doing things and you’re like, that’s not the way I should be doing it, but let me try it anyway. Let me see how it works.

Bree Hill 0:19:23

Definitely. This is where the phrase abstract and mixed media come into play, where you really don’t. You’ll start out with the plan. You’ll never stick with the plan. I rarely ever stick with the plan unless it’s a self portrait. The painting that you actually pulled up was not supposed to have birds. I was not supposed to be floating. There were not supposed to be ropes. But it felt whenever you feel like it needs something or you want something else into it, obviously you add it, but then it’s kind of like a domino effect, then you’ll want something else to go with that, and it kind of just keeps going.

Rico Figliolini 0:20:00

Right. All right, so let me throw this one up here. Hold on a second. That’s another one you did?

Bree Hill 0:20:09


Rico Figliolini 0:20:09

You want to describe that a little bit to us?

Bree Hill 0:20:13

I think of this, like, as you’re in a sunroom, you’re kind of calm laying down flat on your back. Or even if you were like, if it was like a meadow and you were just laying on your back in the grass, tall grass with little dandelions around you, and the sun just reflects so many different shadows. And I like to not always do black and white. I really do like different colors in everything. I do, actually, most of my pieces, probably. You’ll find every single color in it, besides pencil, obviously, but I definitely felt this one as, like, a serene moment.

Rico Figliolini 0:20:54

It looks very serene. Let’s go with. There’s a couple of pictures I want to bring up of Esther’s. Try this one. Actually, let’s do both of these. I’m going to bring up three of them to tell us a little bit about these. What are they? And tell us what you want to show with that.

Esther Cooper 0:21:23

Well, I think the one with the m and Ms on it, that one was for. We were having a Christmas party for my basketball team, and I signed up to bring dessert, and I don’t know, I saw it on Pinterest or somewhere, and it kind of just looked like. It kind of looks like a barrel full of eminem. And I just thought that was a really fun concept. It was very fun.

Rico Figliolini 0:21:51

And those are kit kats on the outside, I guess.

Esther Cooper 0:21:54

Yes, sir. But another thing that you don’t see inside is that when you cut into the cake, it’s a red, green, and white in, like, a checkerboard pattern. So that was very fun.

Rico Figliolini 0:22:06

Cool. Yeah, that was complicated. I’m sure it’s set up like that. Right? What about the chocolate pops? If I’m looking at that correctly.

Esther Cooper 0:22:17

I made a fatal mistake when I started baking, and I told all my friends that I started baking, so they were all like, please bring in cake pops. So it feels like every other weekend I’m making cake pops to bring in for my friends. I think this one was probably, I made cake pops for my math class. I think this is probably those cake pops. I don’t remember.

Rico Figliolini 0:22:41

And this one.

Esther Cooper 0:22:43

That one, that one’s not looking so great. But I really liked the design. It was actually a cake I saw in a cookbook.

Rico Figliolini 0:22:53

Okay. You got a little patriotic, I think, on this one.

Esther Cooper 0:22:58

Oh, that one was really fun. That one was for 4th of July. You can’t tell. It was a s’mores dip. So there was Hershey’s chocolate bars under there. And then you would take graham cracker crackers and dip it in, and it was pretty good.

Rico Figliolini 0:23:16

That’s cool. That’s what you want. You want to be able to get creative and get it going like that. There’s definitely a lot of butter in that, I bet. Let’s go to brie. And we want to. This behaves. That’s the sculpture you did, I think, Bree, right?

Bree Hill 0:23:39


Rico Figliolini 0:23:40

And tell me a little bit about the sculptures.

Bree Hill 0:23:46

So these are polar bears. The animals that I did, I was actually experimenting with different glazes. So the dogs that I did were almost oreo. They were light brown, dark brown, cream, and white all swirled into each other. And this one, I wanted to try different textures. And this is actually a different type of clay that leaves a really hoarse. It’s a gritty clay, a different texture, and it has little black dots in it. And it reminded me of a polar bear. And so this was one of the ones that I made with smooth fun.

Rico Figliolini 0:24:27

Cool. Was this at the Wesleyan artist market as well at some point or not?

Bree Hill 0:24:31

Yes. I did this with my elephant, swans and dogs. I had did my elephant, which actually took around a week and a half because I drew every individual aged line in the nose, the legs, the body.

Rico Figliolini 0:24:54

So let me ask you something. When something like that sells and goes off with someone, do you, like, cry a little bit? Is that like my baby’s left?

Bree Hill 0:25:08

I like to think more on the positive side. Like, someone else gets to experience my art. If someone else came into their house or wherever it’s being placed, it gives someone else another emotion, which is kind of life. The sense of spreading whatever I was doing in that moment. And I was actually having fun creating different animals. And I was really happy that someone liked it enough to one buy it, but also have in their home to show it.

Rico Figliolini 0:25:39

Sure. Sure. That makes sense. Esther has a different way of people enjoying hers than literally eat it and it disappears. So how do you feel about that? One stays a while and one is a momentary delight. Yeah, that must be. If I skipped anything. Is there anything, Bree, that you would like to share that we didn’t cover or that your experience that you’d like to share?

Bree Hill 0:26:18

I started something new this year. I do commissions in every medium, so I could also do animals. I’m doing self portraits of any picture. You would just send me a picture via email or phone. I would draw it or paint it. And that’s something new that I’m offering this year at the Wesleyan artist market.

Rico Figliolini 0:26:39

Wow. Okay. Very good. And, Esther, what about you? Anything that I’ve not touched upon that you’d like to share?

Esther Cooper 0:26:48

Not really.

Rico Figliolini 0:26:50

Okay, that’s fine. It’s all good. We have been speaking to Esther and Bree. From all you’ve been through the programs, I’m assuming, like, Bree, you’ve been through some of the art programs and stuff. And Esther, you’ve been through. Does Wesleyan have bakery, baking, cooking, any classes? Like. No. Right. It’s all academic. Academic and sports and science, of course. Cool. So if people want to follow you on social media to watch you, to see your work, or would they visit, is there anything you want to share that way? I don’t know if yours are private accounts or if you have an Instagram that’s open to the public.

Bree Hill 0:27:38

I have an Instagram. It’s called Bubbly Creations by Bree Hill. And obviously I’ll be at the Wesleyan artist market. Those are ways you could reach me.

Rico Figliolini 0:27:51

Cool. Esther, anything on your end other than being at the artist market?

Esther Cooper 0:27:55


Rico Figliolini 0:27:59

Well, I’m having a great time talking to you, learning a little bit about your art and your passions. It’s always good to go through this. Every year we do this with a set of students just before the Wesleyan artist market. So it’s always fun to see different kids, different grades, doing different mediums and how they approach things. So I want to say thank you for sharing with us.

Bree Hill 0:28:22

Thank you for having us.

Rico Figliolini 0:28:24


Esther Cooper 0:28:24

Thank you.

Rico Figliolini 0:28:25

Thank you. So hang in there for a minute. I’m just going to sign off. Say thank you again to EV Remodeling, Inc. For being a sponsor of this program, along with other things that we do. You can check them out at evremodellinginc.com. They’re based here, Peachtree Corners. Great family. Eli is a great guy. Check them out. They do great work. So feel free and also check us out at livinginpeachtreecorners.com. And our magazine, the upcoming issue of April, May, will have coverage of three Wesleyan artists, adult artists that will be at the show. And you can find out more information from us there. And certainly you can search the Wesleyan artist market and find out about all the great artists that will be there in April. So thanks again. Appreciate it.

Continue Reading

Read the Digital Edition


Peachtree Corners Life

Topics and Categories


Copyright © 2024 Mighty Rockets LLC, powered by WordPress.

Get Weekly Updates!

Get Weekly Updates!

Don't miss out on the latest news, updates, and stories about Peachtree Corners.

Check out our podcasts: Peachtree Corners Life, Capitalist Sage and the Ed Hour

You have Successfully Subscribed!