Fahamu Pecou is one of Atlanta’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, so news this week that a fire had completely destroyed his studio came as a shock to the arts community and to the city as a whole. ArtsATL caught up with Pecou to gather more details and to hear some of his thoughts on the devastating event.
ArtsATL: Where were you when it happened? How did you hear?
Fahamu Pecou: I was in Cuba. The fire happened early Saturday morning, but I didn’t find out until about noon.
ArtsATL: Do they know what caused the fire?
Pecou: The actual cause is still under investigation.
ArtsATL: What was lost?
Pecou: I lost about nine paintings and all of my supplies, tools and a collection of art and memorabilia, which documents my career. I was able to save two paintings, which were tucked away in my in-studio storage.
ArtsATL: Where was your studio? Were other studios and businesses harmed or just yours?
Pecou: My studio, affectionately known as the Waddi, housed Cameo Salon, a new reiki center as well as (Scot) Eben Dunn’s studio [on Wadell Street near Dekalb Avenue]. Scot’s space and his extensive, 30-year collection of materials for his assemblage paintings are completely wiped out. The salon was also significantly damaged.
ArtsATL: What were your thoughts when you saw the damage?
Pecou: More than the sight of it, the smell and sound of water, still dripping from the firefighter’s hoses, struck me. However, it was all very surreal. I’ve spent the better part of the last four years in that space. Walking in, it was no longer that wonderful studio: the Waddi was gone.
ArtsATL: What are your plans now? Can you still work for the time being, and where do you think you’ll look for a new studio?
Pecou: Currently, I’m in a holding pattern as far as my practice is concerned. All my supplies, tools and materials are gone — in addition to the space. But I’m moving forward. Before this incident, I was already planning an active fall schedule with lectures and exhibits in New Hampshire and LA amongst other projects. Also this week, I kicked off the second iteration of a program I designed in conjunction with the Annie E. Casey Foundation called “(ad)Vantage Point.” The program introduces black male students to multidisciplinary creative practices in an effort to empower them to rewrite their own narrative.
Fahamu Pecou’s wife, Jamila Crawford Pecou, has started a GoFundMe page to help him rebuild his studio.