Barbara LoMonaco had just started her handcrafted skincare brand Honey and Vine when she first came upon the website that would introduce her to a new community: Field of Artisans, a creative collaborative of over 350 local artists, designers and craftspeople.
The collaborative hosts public pop-up art markets throughout South County, most notably with their summer series. Each Saturday in the summer, Field of Artisans meets in a natural location in South County to share art with customers and collaborators alike. Each Saturday features a different slate of artists and crafts, ranging from embroidery and clothing to pottery, photography and painting, to everything in between.
LoMonaco was intrigued by the concept, albeit cautious, but when she attended her first event last August, she soon felt that she belonged.
“I was petrified and worried, but people bought lots of things,” LoMonaco said. “[Field of Artisans founder] Katrina Meehan creates this very familial environment. One of the things I love about Field of Artisans is there’s this really great type of support for all the artists, and for all of the people who come together helping everybody out. Whether putting up your tents, giving suggestions for your display or even sending people your way, it is a very communal experience.”
Founder Katrina Meehan created Field of Artisans in the summer of 2015 after returning to her hometown of South Kingstown, RI after spending five years working in fashion and event planning in New York City. While working in merchandising for brands such as Kate Spade in New York, Meehan made handmade jewelry on the side and sold it at the city’s vibrant art markets. Upon returning to Rhode Island, Meehan noticed that her hometown had fewer opportunities for artists to show their work or establish their business. Field of Artisans was intended to remedy this problem in southern New England.
“What I enjoy about Field of Artisans and the people part of it is that it’s a platform for local artists and local shoppers to experience art from their home state,” Meehan said. “But it’s also about expanding ‘local,’ so we have artists from around New England, artists from Massachusetts, Connecticut, so shoppers experience art they may not see daily.”
Despite the local focus, the pop-up events may also feature artists from other parts of the country, according to Meehan. One example she cited was an artist from California who sold macramé art, or textiles produced through knotting techniques, when she stayed in Rhode Island over the summer.
This year’s summer season began on June 8 and will end on Aug. 31. Each event takes place weekly on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. All of the events in June and those on Aug. 24 and Aug. 31 will be held in Marina Park in South Kingstown. The July events and the events on Aug. 3, Aug. 10 and Aug. 17 will take place at the South Kingstown Town Beach.
“Our beautiful locations and symbiotic venue partnerships offer artists a space to network, see opportunity and share their work all while enjoying the sights, smells and energy of amazing Rhode Island,” Meehan said.
Field of Artisans does more than just sell. Artisans can also host outdoor workshops teaching their craft. Sometimes artists will create work on the spot, and Meehan said that the collaborative creates great networking activities. Musicians, food and even yoga classes sometimes make appearances during pop-ups.
Outside of the summer series, the collaborative has also worked with Salve Regina University, Jamestown Arts Center and Sons of Liberty. On each Sunday in December, Field of Artisans will hold holiday markets at Whalers Brewing Company in South Kingstown.
“In 2015 it was just a summer market,” Meehan said. “That was the original idea. To be outside, take advantage of location. But then I saw interest in it being year round. Four years later it’s not only on summer weekends, but we have a holiday market.”
One of Field of Artisans’ greatest strengths is the community it has created, according to Meehan.
“Field of Artisans has not only continued and grown into its place as an event and pop-up market for makers and art appreciators but it has also evolved into a large creative community that connects like minded individuals, providing a space to find inspiration, mentorship and positive support in the growing world of entrepreneurship,” Meehan said.
LoMonaco also vouched for the community that Field of Artisans events and workshops helped shape. She found the community friendly towards artisans of all skill levels, including beginners.
“I think that the people I have met through Field of Artisans have become my friends,” LoMonaco said. “That was something really unexpected.”
Field of Artisans is always interested in meeting more artists of all skill levels and mediums.
Those interested in applying for participation in the summer market series and beyond can apply at fieldofartisans.com.
“For me, with the growing interest in the creative arts, a lot of people are realizing they have creative tendencies or need a creative outlet to complement what they are doing,” Meehan explained. “Field of Artisans can show people that it’s not too scary to follow those creative tendencies.”