Location: 854 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, TN
Hours: Open by appointment and during show openings
Website: @wavelength_space on Instagram or wavelengthspace.com
Founded by: Raquel Mullins
Operated by: Raquel and Trey Mullins
Opened: February 2021
Most Recent Exhibitions: Touch Part 1 & 2, Residual Dwelling, Comfort Riddle
Burnaway: Chattanooga has a vibrant arts district with studios, galleries, and several residencies in the surrounding area. What have you noticed within the arts community there, both in terms of its growth as well as reception in the context of the larger art world?
Raquel Mullins: Chattanooga has a special spark in regard to our arts culture. It’s a vibrant city with a tight-knit community of artists and the offering of contemporary art spaces is small but growing. A network of artist-run spaces has seemed to ebb and flow over the years. I’m hopeful that as we emerge from the setbacks of 2020, we’ll start to see more art spaces emerge both at the underground and non-profit level as well as the commercial level. As opportunities for artists within the gallery scene were forced online throughout the experience of COVID, we noticed that the importance of geographic position may have diminished. Chattanooga may not be a hub for contemporary art just yet, but the city is a hub for culture and creativity, and I believe the moment is ripe for Chattanooga to have a voice within the art world at large. Now that we have artist residencies in the area such as StoveWorks, and institutions such as The Institute of Contemporary Art at UTC, the community is beginning to gain momentum and be fueled in ways it wasn’t in the past. We’re excited about what all of these factors mean for our regional artists, because we believe the health of an art community is really measured by the diversity of spaces and of artist participation from around the nation alongside the rich pool of talent we have locally. The nationally based artists we’ve had the pleasure of working with so far have been very generous and receptive to us. Many have traveled from bigger cities, sometimes across the country to see our space and to be present for installation and events and have been surprised by the energy here. It’s been humbling and reassuring to witness how much artists from outside our community care to be involved with artist-run spaces like ours.
BA: What are your expectations in running a new space, both the gallery, Wavelength Space, and a recording studio and media production company, Wavelength Studios?
RM: We hope that Wavelength as a whole (both the gallery and the recording studios) will become a content creation center in the heart of Chattanooga. We envision it being a place where artists of all disciplines can come together to create and display their work, whether it’s in traditional or digital mediums. We believe there are amazing stories waiting to be told by the people in the region, and we want to provide access to the highest quality of gear and expertise to let those voices be heard.
We hope for the gallery to be a place where local and regional artists can show in communication with artists from around the country. Our focus for our first two years is primarily on the organization of conceptually themed, group exhibitions. We’re setting the stage for both regional and national artists’ work to converse and create a context for our local community to have meaningful in-person encounters with important, challenging ideas and work.
BA: As artists yourselves, can you reflect on how and why you decided to operate an alternative artist-run space and how has it affected or influenced your own studio practices?
RM: Ever since I attended grad school in Chicago, I’ve had the dream of creating an artist-run space in Chattanooga. Chicago is a hub of all kinds of galleries and alternative spaces and I was really inspired to bring a piece of that energy home. I needed to do it. I needed to facilitate space and creative agency for myself and other artists as an extension of my studio practice.
Curating and directing a space has taken considerable time away from my studio practice, but it feels like I’ve created another branch or body of meaningful work that I love making. So I don’t view that studio time as lost or gone. I also became a parent at the inception of the space, and therefore, all of my “normal” schedules have changed anyway. It is all time well spent and I cherish the sense of connection to the community I’m finding through the work.