Posts Tagged With: public art

The Joy of CreatingCommunity Art

When I graduated from college with a degree in art, I never thought that I would be a public art advocate or a muralist. Of course, I never thought I would be on TV or an AmeriCorps Service Member either. Today working on community art projects is one of the things that gives me the most joy.

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AmeriCorps Volunteer murals start to appear in the windows of the Golden Rule Building, Belington, WV

Art has always been a passion of mine but taking my skills to the size and scale of murals to be displayed in public spaces is new. I have always used art as a tool for my personal  expression, never thinking about doing art for the public. Now as a mature artist, I am sharing the feelings and passions of communities, programs, and groups of people. The change is fundamentally new to my understanding of what it means to create and to be a creator. I see my work now as a tool for positive change in a community. A gift that will have lasting effects in many of the small rural towns where I live and work.

 

Over the last month, two more quilt panels that I was the project manager for and head artist have been installed, 6 window murals have been installed that I helped to create with volunteers, and the beginnings of an office mural, that I am personally painting, is ready for paint application. I am also on the board of an Art organization called Mountain Arts District that is in the process of installing a collection of student art work  in a city park in June. It is over whelming when I stop and look at the amount of people and projects that have passed through my life in the last 3 years.  Yet, this is not my main job and I only do what I can for non-profits who rarely have the funds to pay for such projects. I am doing most of this work as a part of my AmeriCorps service but also as an educational experience to those around me. Public art is a niche skill just like any other field and the leaders of our communities rarely understand or feel comfortable talking with arts, I aim to change that.

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line drawing on the wall of my new office Barbour County Development Authority, Philippi, WV

 

I often paint with non-artist volunteers and spend much of my time helping and teaching interested community members skills that they can use to make community art themselves. It is a joy to share in the process of watching an idea come to life, then see people learning to make art, then watch the pride that comes to their faces when they walk through a downtown seeing art that they have helped to make. It is sometimes the only real change that they can point to and say “I did that” in their community.

Community art is best when people who live and love a place take part in the creation of their culture. That could mean painting murals,  taking part in community dances, attending festivals of live music or creation of community gardens. It is when people begin to see that they have the power to create positive change that things begin to thrive.

Even if I never planned to be doing this kind of work and I am surprised everyday that I get paid to create these images, I am thankful to AmeriCorps for allowing me to share my skills.I am fortunate to work at sites that have allowed me the time away from the “office” to work on these up lifting projects and I will have the best memories of my service time.  It is my final wish that as I leave AmeriCorps next spring that I can continue to make a difference in my community with art in some way. I know that it has changed me for the better and I hope it is always part of who I am.

instillation of Quilt block at YMCA 2017

installation of one of the 8 panels I helped to create for the Elkins Main Street project 2017

 

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Categories: About me, AmeriCorps, Art, Barbour County, Community Art, Elkins Main Street, murals, Painting, Quilt Trails | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

#Heart of WV Rocks, Painted Rocks Become hidden Treasures.

I have never seen anything like it… West Virginians, young and old, fat and thin, boys and girls, men and women have discovered the joy of the treasure hunt with colorful painted stones. The painted rock treasures are found outdoors often in parks,around walking paths or businesses. Their bright colors pop and glow, hidden in trees, on benches, in window sills, in playhouses, even in flower boxes. Once found and enjoyed the game calls for them to be photographed and hidden again for others to find.

Buckhannon rocks Melinda Wells

With little or no money involved everyone can join in the fun. #HeartofWVRocks  is a Facebook group started in Dec of 2017 to share in a crazy idea of painted rocks that would be hidden and found by total strangers and then hash tagged and posted on Facebook to show off the stones and who has found them. The idea was taken from a woman buy the name Kathy Cobb who started Western WV rocks and set up rules/ guidelines for making the rocks and how to post the images. The instructions explain how each stone should include a message with the Heart of WV Rocks Facebook page name and the info about how to play ( find, pic, hide) and a hashtag of the maker so they want to try to keep track of the stones. IMG_0015

The rules of the game can be found at the above link, and cover a large portion of the questions that hiders and finders may have. Each stone is unique and the makers hash tags of makers are just as interesting as the rocks sometimes. The below stone was made by #mommawrocks and  she made several rocks that she posted photos of. Christopher and I found one the same day as she hid it…. actually within hours. The chances of finding one of her 6 rocks in the whole county within hours of placement on a random chance that we would play and re-post a photo of the rock so she could see it is mind-boggling.

Christopher and I found our first rock by accident. I needed to stop at the local library to drop off a book and Christopher wanted to play for a minute under a large tree in the library yard. So when we returned to the yard he squealed with excitement that he had found a lovely watermelon painted rock in the crotch of an old tree. The back of the rock had the instructions to, Enjoy the find, Take Picture, Post to FB, Then hide. So we did, as you can see the rock found a new home under the leaves of a flower. This lead us to looking for more stones with the thought that if we found 2 or 3, it would be wonderful.

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Re-hidden water mellon rock .

We found 4 more at the Libaray and felt  pretty good about that amount. We had plans to play at the park and found 5 more while Christopher ran all through the park. Then off to an ice cream shop where Christopher with the an ice cream cone in hand found another. So, the day continued all around Lewis county with 13 stones found in just 3 hours, ending with this last stone found at a retail store.

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Tree man stone found at Tractor Supply in Weston West Virginia June 30 2017

The artistry and creativity of each stone makes this project a living work of art. Each stone is an individual and was created with love. Finding the stones is exciting not only to children but for people of all ages. I found myself smiling big, as I found my own stones along  a path near a creek. I chose to hide my stones miles from where we found them because they needed to travel and see more of my mountain community. For those few minutes I was a child again, playing with my son, feeling the same excitement and adventure that you only have when it is the hot summer of elementary school and you are always on the look out for some thing new. I loved that we bought nothing, sold nothing and left everything except the memory of the Heart of WV Rocks.

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#Roys Rock 13 Don’t Stop Rock

As student of the arts and a board member of a regional arts organisation, I am thrilled at this grassroots art experience. This is the reason we all love the arts, from the lovely creative expression in making the rocks, to the thrill of hiding them, to the joy of being surprised at each new pattern found on the rocks. The HeartofWVRocks project brings  us all together to see the joy of just a painted rock.

This free game is so much better for all of us then those designed on our phones. We spend time outside, we met others who are also looking for the rocks, we found beauty, received blessings from total strangers and felt the joy of finding a hidden treasure. It is this Joy that is magic. In a world full of turmoil, confusion and hatred, I am thankful to be looking for hidden treasure in one of our countries hardest hit states. North Central West Virginia strives to continue to bring people together because Mountaineers never really lose hope. We never forget to share what we value the most, families, friends and our neighbors. Even when it looks like there is no light at the end our states tunnel, We find joy, friendship, creativity in the very smallest of things like a little painted stone. Thank you to everyone who took time to paint a rock for my son and I to find. You made my day full of beauty, friendship, and excitement.IMG_0011

Categories: Art, Christopher, collections, DIY projects, family fun, Lewis County, nostalgic, public art, trends, West Virginia artists, Weston | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Elkins Main Street Creates a Heritage Quilt Block Trail

Following in the same tradition as Barn Quilt Trails of other rural counties, Elkins Main Street begins the process of creating their own Heritage Quilt Block Trail. Located within the downtown historic district of Elkins, West Virginia, community groups come together to support public art and beautification.

With guidance from the Pocahontas County Arts Counsel, The Pen2Paper.org web site “How to Make a Barn Quilt” and many local artist and supporters, we have gathered the best information possible on how to build our own quilt block murals. The four large 8X8 foot painted panels represent 4 traditional quilt patterns used in Appalachian quilts of the area. The large panels will be mounted on the outside of downtown buildings, have an interpretive  map made up of other quilt blocks locations and tell the story of the historical significance of each pattern when all four are completed.

The patterns painted on the blocks represent things that are commonly found in West Virginia and bring to mind the beauty and tradition of quilt making in our local history. The first pattern that is now finished is the “Maple Leaf” pattern.  This brightly colored quilt block will be the first to be installed in the downtown. It will be proudly displayed on the brickwork of the Elkins YMCA. Working on these panels we have members of the local Generation Randolph business development group, service members from AmeriCorps,  Mountain Arts District members and a team from Youthbuild who all work together to prepare and paint the 8 foot X 8 foot panels.AmeriCrops working on Hertiage Quilt Block Panels

Service Members of AmeriCorps: Dominic Piacentini, Molly Greenhouse, Kate Sammons and JoLynn Powers

The second pattern is the traditional pattern of the “Log Cabin”, with the center being bright red to symbolize the heart of every home. It is the most common pattern of all the ones we are making for the trail.

The Third pattern is the Pine Tree that students at Youth Build, a local technical school, are taking on a large portion of the painting as part of their training.

The fourth and final pattern is the “West Virginia Star” with bold Blue and Gold Coloring.

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Mountain Arts District members Anne Beardslee, Josie Cuda, Frank Cuda and Dominic Piacentini

The Heritage Quilt Block Trail of Elkins will add a warm, friendly feel to downtown that will encourage people to spend more time in the area.The trail is also a way for the public to get involved in making the town more beautiful, remind the public of our unique history and enjoy art in a public setting.

As the project finishes up and the murals are mounted on buildings around downtown, I hope to document their final placement.I hope to do a presentation with photos and Powerpoint about what we have learned, what we did right and wrong, and how it affects the people of Elkins. Maybe making a small statement about the power of art and how it can bring a community together.

Categories: AmeriCorps, Art, community service, DIY projects, Elkins Main Street, Elkins West Virginia, public art, quilts | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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