Shaping a Community
By Heike Hellmann-Brown
Ann Litrel’s body of work as an artist, writer and advocate for Woodstock’s Elm Street Cultural Arts Village is a testament to her love for Cherokee County and its people that welcomed her so many years ago. “As an artist I strive every day to paint a better vision of the world,” Litrel says. “Art gives us joy, it uplifts, feeds the spirit, and ultimately makes our lives better. Creation in any form is not a mythical event of the past, but a living event of the moment taking place all around us.”
Subsequently, Litrel’s artwork is mainly nature-themed with a strong admiration for the beauty of God’s creations, be it the most minute wildflower or the most ordinary hayfield.
Born in Kansas and raised in the Midwest, Litrel already knew as a 6-year-old that she wanted to be an artist. She later graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Michigan. After moving to Georgia, she opened a studio and adapted her artwork onto commercial products, such as custom-designed paperware and textiles for clients nationwide.
In 2002, Litrel combined her art and writing skills to create “The Eternal Garden,” a collection of nature images accompanied by written meditation on the subject’s spiritual symbolism, followed in 2004 by “American Visions,” a visual/narrative panorama depicting the march of history through the American community — from frontier to farmland, small town to suburbs.
For the past decade Litrel has resided in Cherokee County, along with her two sons and husband, Dr. Mike Litrel, a physician and writer. Over the years Ann Litrel has written and illustrated columns for a variety of publications on such topics as history, community and ecology, and collaborated with her husband on several projects, their latest being the 2013 book, “Surviving True Love, Children, and Other Blessings in Disguise.”
Initially a solitary fine artist, Litrel now showcases her collection of North Georgia scenes and local landmarks at her gallery and studio space in Downtown Woodstock, a move which ultimately led to her involvement with community projects, such as the Elm Street Cultural Arts Village and local nonprofit organizations that she supports with a portion of her sales. Currently Litrel’s focus lies on “Community: History & Visions.” Through written and painted portraits, the series showcases the influence of local leaders, volunteers and visionaries in shaping Cherokee County — and thus leaving her own impact as well.
“Art is my vehicle to instill change,” she explains. “Whether it is nature, our environment, or the education system, we all can use our individual talents to make a difference and help shape the community in which we live. Get involved! Make this a beautiful environment where people feel at peace and everyone is inspired to contribute. Let’s paint the world together!”