Resident links art and the outdoors

By Yasmine Laasraoui
Herald Intern

In recent years, Hyde Park’s Promontory Point has been host to evenings of artistic expression around a fire pit, called Art is Bonfire. Since 2011, Hyde Park resident Tiffanie Beatty has brought spoken word poets outdoors in this bi-annual social event.

Beatty “wanted to create something a little more out of the box” to add to Chicago’s already lively poetry scene. She decided to “take it outdoors and see what happens,” she said, by bringing poetry and one of her favorite places, Promontory Point, together.

A Washington state native, Beatty grew up loving the outdoors. She draws her inspiration for Art is Bonfire from her family outings to Promontory Point’s beach. Referring to her “poetry family” as her “Chicago family,” Beatty aims to make the poetry scene more accessible by providing an outdoor location.

In addition to her fondness of Promontory Point, the location has also given the group the opportunity to have fire pits. The fire’s symbolism serves as the event’s powerful metaphor, explains Beatty. For the artists, “poetry is their fire.”

The informal events usually begin with a social hour of “roasting marshmallows, hotdogs, whatever,” and are then kicked off with a poem. Following an explanation of the event, attendees are invited to present their pieces. On occasion, participants are asked to write on a piece of paper what they would symbolically like to burn, which is then thrown into the fire. More recently, visual artists were invited to burn some of their painted artwork.

The project has developed interest – and support. Beatty and the other members of Art is Bonfire recently exceeded their fundraising goal of $1,000. Primarily raised through Kickstarter, the funds were used to bring the event to Seattle’s Golden Gardens Park. This was key to “laying groundwork for the future” of Art is Bonfire, Beatty said, and she “hopes to take it other places in the future.”

Art is Bonfire’s next event will be taking place later this summer at Promontory Point.

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