ELEVATE, the annual Atlanta arts festival, transforms regular ol’ South Downtown into a cultural art extravaganza, and has been doing so since 2011. From October 13 through 21, South Downtown will be full of innovative art, including LED installations, performances, visual art and more. Working alongside the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, ELEVATE highlights what makes the city we all know and love so unique, as well as the vision ATLiens have for a better Atlanta in the future. The festival has targeted issues like transportation, social interaction and, this year, the curatorial team is exploring the theme, “Microcosm.” The team is comprised of Monica Campana, Pastiche Lumumba, Allie Bashuk and Mark DiNatale, and each curator brings a different perspective and approach to art and community. Here, we get to know curator Mark DiNatle, from his background to approach for the festival, in more depth.

Hand-Picked Atlanta: How did you get involved with elevate/What's your art background?
Mark DiNatale: I’ve been the director of operations and programming at The Goat Farm for the past six years. I’m mostly into the music side—during college, I was a DJ and had two radio shows. I was pretty involved in the music scene. [I got involved] with ELEVATE in 2014 when The Goat Farm did the Dumpster Project which was a large-scale project that I ran where we put 10 dumpsters in downtown and had 10 artists one for each dumpster and then activated them throughout elevate. that was a large scale installation project, which was my first experience with elevate.

HPA: The theme this year is "Microcosm." What does that mean to you?
MD: [Microcosm] is a focus on larger issues through this particular moment. You can't address all of the issues affecting the entire country, but what we can do is show some of these larger issues through the lens of Atlanta and artists. The way I like to think about it is when someone is experiencing microcosms, they're actually inside of a living, breathing example of the issue—the issue is all around them. They might be looking at a work specifically in South Downtown, but everything that's happening around them is also the issue we're trying to address.

HPA: Elevate emphasizes each curator brings something unique to the table. What sets your curatorial style apart?
MD: i don't really have a curatorial role. I take kind of a backseat to the kind of aesthetic vision. I let other people lead the aesthetics and I play kind of a more support role in the logistics and handling financial aspects. I think my specialty would be environmental design, or how people experience the work and the space, how they walk through it or how the individual experience unfolds throughout the exhibition. With The Goat Farm, I've done hundreds of programs, so i know The Goat Farm property really well but I've only done two show in Downtown: one on Broad Street last year and Best of Atlanta with Creative Loafing.

HPA: Have there been any surprises along the way? MD: If the space isn't right we change spaces. As a privileged white, heterosexual male on this team, it’s interesting for me to see the red, green and black bike tour—which is a safe space for people of color only—and to see that matched with a round table discussion at the same exact time talking about safe spaces and inclusive spaces, and those two matched together was really interesting. It’s enlightening for me to see.

HPA: Is curating Elevate different than other projects you've worked on? How?
MD: Much different. It’s working with the city. The Goat Farm is a private entity, so now we’re working with a public entity and public money. The visibility is higher because it's city wide. And anything you do with any money is publicly known, so you can't just do whatever you want. You have to consider the implications of what you do. But it's really important that the city is addressing these issues through arts and culture, and good to see the city so supportive of expressing these ideas and working with us so closely to execute the vision how we see them. I don't think it's harder. it's just a different model of thinking.

Hand-Picked Atlanta Editorial Intern Emily van den Berg is an ATL city girl hailing from a small-town in Holland. She spends most of her time reading, imagining what it’s like to be a superhero and setting up her Netflix queue. She believes that every dog she meets is her new best friend and often wonders if their owners will notice if she takes them with her.