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Chamblee’s Thriving Art Community

Meet three artists busy at work on their craft

Article by Tana Poncsak

Photography by Tana Poncsak and Janet Howard

Originally published in Chamblee City Lifestyle

Julia Knight


What inspired you to become a sculptor?

I had to fulfill a college credit with a studio art class, and I signed up for a figure sculpting class. I was going to be a math major and had already completed four semesters of linear algebra, and I said, ‘You know what? I don’t care about projectiles. I want to do art.’ So I transferred to an art school.

Tell me about your current project.

The Alabama Women’s Tribute Statue Commission in Montgomery, Ala., advertised an open call for statues of Helen Keller and Rosa Parks. I applied and got the Rosa Parks statue. Rosa Parks has been done so many times, but she’s always done seated. The more I read about her, the more I realized that she was an activist, active in the movement of procuring civil rights for African Americans. She did not sit down. She stood up and stepped onto the bus every day. The story I want to tell is that she was an activist. I think it’s a very important story to tell. She is such a fabulous character. She’s a hero. She’s my hero.

Once complete, the monument, “Rosa Parks Stepping into Equality” will stand 9 feet, 6 inches tall on top of a 6-foot granite base. For more information about Julia Knight and her work, visit

Carla Gignilliat


How did your interest in art come about?

Art is something that has always been in my life. My mom was a graphic designer and very creative, so she raised me to explore different types of mediums. I also had a very influential art teacher. I spent my study halls in her room. It was such a warm environment where I could experiment and grow as an artist, even at a young age.

What led you pursue art as an adult?

I went to the University of Northern Iowa and got my master’s in Speech-Language Pathology. When I graduated, I worked with the geriatric population for a few years. Later, I moved to Atlanta to work with medically fragile infants and toddlers. I took art classes on the side, basically dipping my toes into things outside of work. I left my job when our son was born, and our daughter was born five years later. After being at home, I was ready to get out of the house thinking I would really like to explore being an artist.

Tell me about your artwork.

I’ve always been drawn to nature, trees, hiking and I started painting landscapes and that’s where I really felt a spark.

Carla is looking forward to an artist residency in Chateau Orquevaux in France. For more information on Carla and her work, visit

Janet Howard


What made you want to become a photographer?

I’ve always loved photography, but I never really thought about doing it as a career until I assisted another photographer at a wedding. It’s creatively fulfilling and you’re around people who are happy. I get to see people during the most special times of their lives. And that’s what got me hooked.

One of your next projects is the photography for “Chamblee City Lifestyle Magazine.” Tell me what you’re looking forward to most.

I’m excited to see parts of Chamblee that I haven’t see yet. Because I’m a small business owner too, I like getting to meet and getting to know other business owners.

If you see Janet out and about with her camera, be sure to smile and say “cheese.” You might show up in a future issue. Visit Janet’s website at

She is such a fabulous character. She’s a hero. She's my hero. Julia Knight, Sculptor, talking about Rosa Parks.

  • Julia Knight works on her current project, a statue of Rosa Parks.
  • Carla Gignilliat adds finishing touches to a recent painting.
  • Janet Howard is a professional photographer in Chamblee.