Today we’d like to introduce you to Natassha Chambliss.
Natassha, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Art has always been a part of my story. I was drawing and making my own coloring book pages at age seven. When it came time to choosing a high school, I knew that Milwaukee High School of the Arts (MHSA) was the one for me. There I studied visual arts, drawing, painting, sculpting and photography. My friends and I were also granted the amazing opportunity to study and work in the Milwaukee Art Museum (M.A.M.) While creating and wandering the galleries within the museum I observed the absence of faces like my own. I knew from those moments on that no matter what I did with my future; it would involve correcting this matter.
Then life happened; I was well on my way to graduating and pursuing my passion for the arts when I found out I was pregnant. The family and people around me began advising and warning of the challenges with earning money and finding a career in the arts that would feed my baby and me. So, I gave birth to my daughter and went on to study business and management instead. It would take 20 years before I returned to even thinking about art for myself. Never far from it, always enjoying art in all of its many forms. Eventually, my family and I would move from Milwaukee, WI to Atlanta, GA and a trip to the High Museum of Art, where I saw the work of artist and inspiration, Fahamu Pecou. I was in a major Museum and the work of Pecou literally sparked something inside of me.
I began immersing myself in the Atlanta Arts scene. Attending weekly gallery exhibits, both large and small. I started chatting with artists at those shows and taking note of the works I loved and the costs of them. I interviewed curators and gallery owners to learn what was working for them and some of the challenges they were facing in the city. I was amazed at how friendly and open everyone was with me. My passion and ideas turned to using my business acumen and corporate experiences to help artists. I started volunteering in the community and with arts organizations. This solidified my commitment to the arts. Volunteering eventually led to board service and I now proudly serve as an officer on the board of the National Black MBA – Atlanta Chapter and as the newly elected Board Chair of the Atlanta Printmaker’s Studio.
In 2018 I started, the Lines Gallery, Inc and my husband and I also began the Chambliss Collection. We bought our first piece of original art, a woodblock, by Jamaal Barber from his “Bright Black” exhibition.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Having my daughter at the age of 17 years old and shifting from art to business provided the first significant detour in my journey. I listened to others instead of following my passion. I made so many excuses too! After a year and a half, I dropped out of college, convincing myself it was because there was no way I could go to school full-time, work full-time, and raise a child. It seemed impossible so I quit and struggled to get promoted with the companies where I worked. My bosses said the absence of a degree was holding me back.
Twelve years after dropping out, I returned to school, this time attending Alverno College. I ended up going to school full-time, working full-time, and now married with six children, raising a family. I am such a spiritual person; I feel like God has lessons for us and if we do not learn them the first time around, the most important lessons come back to us. I have seen this over and over in my life. I completed not only a bachelor’s degree in Business, graduating with Honors, but I also continued straight on through to obtain my master’s in business administration. I feel like this is part of what I bring to the Art World, my business knowledge and experience to help others see an artist as a valid career path with tools and knowledge to help the artist I work with earn a living.
We’d love to hear more about Lines Gallery.
The Lines Gallery, Inc. is an independent art gallery currently operating online, hosting pop-up exhibitions and fundraising events in spaces around Georgia. I work with emerging and mid-career artists whose voices and works have been underrepresented and, in some cases, absent from the gallery and museum narratives. I am most proud that each opportunity for an exhibition shines a light on some amazing work from amazing individuals. I see the gifts and sometimes the struggle for some artists to be seen. I see I support, and I collect art from the same individuals I am highlighting in the exhibits the gallery spearheads. If their work is not in our collection, that just means I am working on the finances to get the work into the collection. Exposing the artists we work with to new and interested collectors and collaborating with other community partners and arts organizations is also a huge part of our platform. I recognize that there is already so much great work being done by other grassroots and committed individuals in Atlanta. Partnering and collaborating to elevate the arts in Atlanta in a way that respects and keeps the artist at the heart of what is going on is what we strive to accomplish in every event.
Who else deserves credit – have you had mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, advocates, clients or teammates that have played a big role in your success or the success of the business? If so – who are they and what role did, they plan / how did they help.
Wow, there are so many people who have helped me along the way. Believe it or not, my family are some of my die-hard, biggest supporters now (My mother and mother-in-love, aunts, and uncles). I have so many women who have supported me and have become like sisters along my journey. I have an actual sister & sister-in-love who listens, invests, and who are sounding boards for absolutely everything. I have women who have mentored me and purchased art from the artists I support. There are friends who recommended me for board service and who included my story on their podcast. There is an artist who let me and a friend sits on his couch with a glass of wine and just shared so many words of wisdom about life, art, and the business of art. I have a friend who jumped right in when I was getting the business off the ground. She invested blood, sweat, tears, and finances in helping the first exhibit and fundraiser happen. Then there is each and every artist who entrusts their works to the gallery and I to sell. These artists have my whole heart for forever and a day. There is no gallery without art or artists.
I could not end this conversation without thanking my husband, who just says, yes, to so many things that may be crazy and off the wall, but he sees my excitement and vision, and then when he does not see the vision, he still trusts that I see it and that is enough for him. Critical in my journey are my children, who are often volun-told to help with everything for the business. I am working towards something they can have and pass on to their children (this is legacy work for me). Last but never least are all of the angels watching over me; I have lost my dad, all of my grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and even a brother, they keep me and carry me, and I can only pay that love and support forward. Thank you all!
- Website: LinesGallery.com
- Phone: 678-871-5580
- Email: NatasshaC@LinesGallery.com
- Instagram: @Linesgalleryatl
- Facebook: @Linesgalleryatl
- Twitter: @Linesgalleryatl
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