Toccoa native and local artist featured in Garden and Gun’s new book

Pictured is Marie T. Cochran a Toccoa native and local artist, who was recently featured in Garden and Gun’s new publication Southern Women

A Toccoa native has been selected to be featured among the ranks of women such as Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Loretta Lynn in Garden and Gun’s new book Southern Women.

Marie T. Cochran is a mixed-media artist, writer, and curator in Toccoa. She tells WNEG News that being featured in this publication is a huge honor for her.

“I am so grateful and humbled. It’s not an Academy Award or a Grammy or anything like that, but it’s the next best thing to me for what I do,” she said. “I didn’t have to apply for this. It’s one of those things where you don’t know who’s watching what you do. Even though you might feel like it’s not being noticed. There’s somebody who notices. There’s been times where I’ve said, ‘I just want to stop doing this stuff’ or ‘I just want to teach’ or do other kinds of artwork.’”

Through interviews, essays, and photos, Southern Women features the voices and stories of more than 100 remarkable chefs, musicians, actors, writers, artists, entrepreneurs, designers, public servants, and others to offer a dynamic portrait of who the Southern woman is now.

In Cochran’s interview, she tells the story of integrating the Coats & Clark textile mill swimming pool.

She recalls how segregation was no longer legal, but at the mill swimming pool the races were still kept separate.

Cochran says quote “My mother refused to take the tickets they offered her so that we could use the colored pool. Mom elegantly strolled to the regular pool wearing her sunglasses, and we followed her,” end quote.

She adds that some people left while other people started taking their kids out of the pool, holding them on the sidelines; all the while, Cochran and her brother enjoyed the pool to themselves.

Cochran explained that the people who stayed eventually grew tired of holding their kids back. She says quote “and that was the integration—without any protests, without any placards.”

Cochran’s work has been featured in exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Spelman College, the High Museum of Art, and the Georgia Museum of Art.

She also founded the Affrilachian Artist Project to seek out and curate the artwork of people of color living in Appalachia, as well as to create a network of those interested in diversity in the region.

The book, Southern Women, hits shelves today, and is available for purchase online at Amazon, IndieBound, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million.