LUMBERTON — The tables turned on Angela Carter last week when she assumed the role of the artist being interviewed. More recently, she has been the one asking the questions.
Through the focus of a camera lens, Carter hopes to give local artists exposure in 10-minute-or-less mini-documentaries, coined mini-docs. “Arts Trippin’” takes the viewer on a journey into the creative process, along the ups and downs of an artist’s career, in the vessel that drives their passion.
“It started almost 10 years ago,” Carter said. “I was working at the Arts Council in Wake County, seeing smaller groups operating in the shadows of the big boys — people who work all day and go home and practice their lines.”
Carter was one of those people, finishing her job as a graphic designer at The Robesonian only to go home to edit film and apply for a North Carolina Regional Artist Project Grant. She was one of the 12 artists selected out of the 46 who applied, receiving a grant valued at $1,000 from the Arts Council of Fayetteville/ Cumberland County.
According to Anne Rawson, the Community Investments director for the council, it was given specifically to Carter because the panel viewed her as an “emerging artist who had a lot of potential.”
A self-described latch-key kid, Carter used television at a young age to expand the world outside the walls of her Robeson County upbringing.
“The TV was my babysitter with Sesame Street and all that. And I think a lot of people are like that. I think media can really influence your life, and so I saw the potential for doing a media show that would draw focus on a smaller audience and help them get some recognition.”
The first in her series of mini-docs highlights Kendrix Singletary, an actor, dancer and singer who was born and raised in Robeson County. Singletary most recently produced and performed in the encore presentation of “5 Guys Singing” at the Carolina Civic Center. The far-off look in his eye as he describes how he became a performer highlights a point Carter feels can be made uniquely with film.
“It is a form of expression. It’s a form of communication,” she said. “I think it can communicate emotions sometimes better than the literal word.”
Carter thinks the camera can provide an angle unique to its medium, zooming in for the intimate moments as subtle as a sparkle in the eye.
In the interview, which is posted on YouTube, Singletary describes a field trip to the Givens Performing Art Center as a child where he saw a puppet show manipulated by actors dressed in black. The puppets were highlighted by black light. At first, Singletary focused only on the people in the background. And then, he forgot they were there. Reflecting on his own insecurities as a young audience member, he realized that he too wanted to be on stage.
“It was very comfortable,” said Singletary of sitting down to an interview with Carter. “She has a way of making the person being interviewed just feel like a rock star — it’s very accommodating … . The way that it’s edited, she does a lot of work behind the scenes. She produces an incredible product.”
Carter said that like Singletary, the path to creativity came with a bit of self-doubt, but that through artistic expression she found acceptance.
“This is my art form at this point, this is my outlet. I just do it because I really enjoy it. I enjoy the creative process,” she said. “I enjoy not only working with the artist and communicating with the artist, but also my own creative expression through the editing process.”
Carter said that the immediacy of expression related to film is another catalyst for creativity.
“The great thing about the Internet is the expediency of it, getting it out there and putting it up.”
The final product is an edited package that distills the essence of creativity in an honest way.
“I’ve been watching documentaries … for years. I’ve always liked the honesty they can bring out. It’s not overproduced, it’s not reenacted into what I call the ‘fake reality shows.’ It’s just day-to-day people talking about themselves. That’s always appealed to me personally… . I think what drives people to create art is that individual expression. It’s for themselves.”