Discovering Oakhaven: An Artist’s Journey Home

Christie Chandler

Coming Soon

Oakhaven will be featured as one of 14 historic homes on the Eufaula Pilgrimage tour, March 31-April 2nd 2023.

Oakhaven will be featured in the September/October 2022 issue of the State’s lifestyle periodical, Alabama Magazine. Christie’s “Initiation” chapter from the book will be showcased as an article, along with a series of photographs of the home’s restorations, art, and decor.


Discovering Oakhaven is a non-fiction historical narrative about the author and her husband leaving the suburbs and returning to their Southern roots in rural Alabama. The two have lived in four countries between them, but have felt the call to return to the land and become a part of a community. The setting takes place at Oakhaven, an 1870’s post-bellum home on 100 acres named for Colonel Hiram Hawkins. Seeking a simpler lifestyle, the couple learns how to grow their own food without pesticides, blend with the environment, and practice their respective art forms inspired by the countryside. The book highlights the author’s journey of self-reclamation driven by a deep longing for ‘home’ and a desire to find meaning in relationship with community, family, and Nature.


The writing will also encompass research into the past of Oakhaven and its small town of Eufaula, Alabama. The author will interview locals from all walks of life to better understand what makes living in small towns special and the challenges these communities face to survive in the face of looming globalism. Speaking with entrepreneurs, farmers, homesteaders, and everyday workers, the author hopes to understand strategies to make living local successful. Taking a neutral “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” approach, the author seeks to better understand the social issues of the past and present. Using local historical events as a starting point, the writing will weave uplifting current accounts of black and white community leaders to understand what strengthens and heals families across racial lines. Anecdotes and interviews will offer insights to not only uncover Oakhaven’s history, but also shed light on the complex emotional burdens carried by the cultural traditions of the South.


Showcasing her thoughts in an autoethnographic journal style context, the author invites the reader to see the world through an artist’s eyes. With carefully considered reflections about the world observed around her, the author approaches her subject with tenderness and a desire to learn through listening. Through intuitive problem solving and relationship building, her writing hypothesizes that the sharing of stories opens the door to healing, and that open dialogue develops empathy and uncovers common ground. The artist-author intuits that small communities are set up to take the lead in this approach, because there is already a level of closeness and trust inherent in places where families have known each other for generations. In this kind of setting, the illusion of difference wears a much thinner veil. The author posits that creating a balanced and meaningful life first begins within the heart of the individual, then radiates out to the nuclear family, small communities, and ultimately the world at large. Despite our differences, everyone wants a place where they truly belong.


Sample Writing



Headshot photo fof Christie Chandler
Christie Chandler

Christie first experienced the electric buzz of self-expression in a 6th grade creative writing class. Little did she know she had found her passion, but it would not blossom until later in life. Though she grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, she always had one foot in rural South Georgia where her family roots can be traced for generations back. After finishing Georgia Tech with a degree in Industrial Management, she married and gave the corporate world a try, but motherhood swept in and saved the day. She left the politics and long hours of the business world and devoted her time to her children. As life ran its course and brought opportunities, Christie moved with her family to Johannesburg, Paris, and London and lived abroad for 12 years. Once off the corporate track, inspiration was found in the places she lived and the people she met, and she began to rediscover her creative nature in mid-life. One figurative drawing class led to a photography class, which ultimately resulted in a Fine Arts degree from Central St. Martin’s in London. After the creative process completely reorganized her life, Christie came back to the US in 2013 to begin a fresh start as a visual artist. She most enjoys making large-scale mixed media paintings and realistic graphite drawings, but she has also painted large outdoor murals and contemporary installations. In 2015, she started a company called Arts Evolution in Jacksonville, FL that focused on promoting artists, public art, and charity work. After the pandemic hit in 2019, Christie and her husband began to rethink their lifestyle and bought a farm on 100 acres in rural Alabama, minutes from her South Georgia family origins. They are now building a life around art, nature, goats, regenerative farming, and living local. The farm and all its beauty has inspired Christie to finally add writing to the creative mix, and she has begun to document the process of reconnecting to the land and all its treasures as they are revealed to her. She is finding true freedom in all forms of self-expression, and hopes to help others do the same.