Estrella Carter speaking at Artspace Hastings River Lofts Grand Opening.
In the artistic hub of Artspace Hastings River Lofts, Estrella Carter stands out as a dynamic force and an example of giving back to her community in Hastings, MN. Blending culinary arts with home staging, her journey is rooted in her diverse family heritage and her care for the Hastings community. Carter's artistry has flourished through local engagement, leading to her recent appointment as a commissioner for the Hastings Economic Development and Restructuring Authority. Beyond her professional accolades, Estrella is a guiding presence in Artspace Hastings River Lofts, fostering growth among fellow artists through collaboration and shared wisdom.
Her vision for a vibrant and welcoming community in Hastings is evident in her involvement in producing local events and festivals, highlighting her commitment to communal enrichment. This Q&A delves into Estrella's multifaceted role as an artist, mentor, and civic leader, showcasing how her passion for hospitality and home staging is intertwined with an ethos of “Nourishing the Community, Serving Generosity.” as a means of giving back.
Tio Aiken: Can you share a little bit about your background as an artist and what inspired you to live in the Hastings River Lofts?
Estrella Carter: Sure. I grew up with a family of chefs and interior designers, serving my grandmother, my mom, and my aunt. They turned their talents into a business. I was living in Hastings when a former Artspace team member told me about the beautiful lofts, recognizing my art forms. They suggested I look into Artspace, and I did. I love Hastings' unique, vibrant atmosphere and the community's support for artists. It seemed like a great place to cultivate my dreams and grow my art.
TA: How would you describe your art form?
EC: I had a boutique catering company and also staged homes for homeowners selling their properties. When I moved into Artspace, I catered events like birthday parties, serving soul food, which was intriguing to the predominantly white Hastings community. It was a way to demonstrate my art form.
TA: How do you think your work has evolved since you've been at Artspace?
EC: My work has evolved through community involvement and collaborations. During COVID, I promoted more of my home staging and decor, which evolved with real estate. I feel good about making a difference in a small, involved community like Hastings, which offers effective exposure compared to larger cities.
TA: Can you discuss any collaborative projects you've been a part of and their significance?
EC: I've worked with the Hastings Prescott Arts Council (HPAC) and helped promote their events. I’ve organized a fall festival to bring the community together, supported by HPAC and Artspace. I also joined the board for Remembrance for Reconciliation, a nonprofit commemorating the first black settlers in Hastings. Additionally, I've just been appointed as one of the commissioners for the Hastings Economic Development and Restructuring Authority, focusing on community development and hospitality.
TA: Do you engage in any mentoring or teaching activities?
EC: I extend opportunities to other artists in Artspace, suggesting roles they might fit into. While I don't do one-on-one mentoring, I believe in sharing resources and expertise organically through collaborations and community work.
TA: What advice would you give to aspiring artists or creative entrepreneurs looking to be involved in communities like Artspace?
EC: It's important to show up and be seen for exposure. Collaborate, network, and volunteer. It's essential to be involved in community events to be recognized and promote your art.
TA: How do you envision the future of Artspace in Hastings and your role in it?
EC: I see Artspace becoming more present and supportive of artists. Hastings is growing, offering more opportunities. Events like the fall festival are becoming fixtures in the community. Artspace is a unique gem in Hastings, like the new hotel, The Confluence, enhancing the town's vibrancy.
TA: Looking back, what is your most memorable experience or achievement in Hastings?
EC: The grand opening at Artspace was memorable. I catered for the event and gave a speech, which was a great contribution. Another achievement was the last fall festival, which showed strong community involvement and support.
TA: Any upcoming events or projects you want to share?
EC: We're planning a holiday door decorating competition in December, judged by HPAC. I'm also involved in planning the next Black History Month event with an organization called Building Remembrance 4 Reconciliation. (BR4R)
TA: Thank you, Estrella, for sharing your experiences and insights and all you do for your community.
EC: Thank you for having me.
*This interview was conducted by Tio Aiken, Artspace's Vice President of Communications