Let me explain how I came to paint 2 community murals. I belong to a neighborhood hiking group. My husband plans the route usually because he’s good at it. He prints maps and works out how many miles we’ll cover and approximately how long we’ll be out. I just show up. I know from past experience that we will see things we would never have noticed otherwise. Sometimes it’s fungus growing out of downed trees or spider webs with dew drops that make them glisten in the sun. Other times it’s bridges, tunnels and other man made structures which beg to be explored and pondered. One of the members of the group is an amazing photographer, so photos from our hikes are legendary.
On our hikes, conversations tend to wander off the beaten track as well. It’s a time and place where we can let the dreamer out. After taking a course in public art last year at Penland School of Crafts I wondered out loud how does one actually get a public art commission when you don’t have any public art experience to point to. Then I wondered out loud what if I designed a public art mural that would be created by the Arden community and displayed at the Arden Fair. My dreamer hiking companions told me that it sounded like a great idea and that they’d help.
I put out a call in the Arden, Ardentown and Ardencroft community for drawings with the theme of life in the Ardens. I got permission to use the gallery to work. I asked for community participation all along the way and if someone showed up I put them to work. We painted a ground of acrylic paint on paper, projected the drawings and traced them with paint markers. The work was slow and steady. My hiking friends and Arden neighbors showed up week after week to work and offer encouragement. My first public art project was born.
The response to the unveiling on Fair day was overwhelmingly positive. People looked at the drawings that were submitted and then at the murals and were amazed. I actually felt the same way they did. It was the coming together of many talented people and supporters. The murals are a visual reminder of this incredible community I live in. I have plans to install it in the Buzz Ware Village Center in Arden. I’m also designing a pack of notecards commemorating the project. Watch the video to see how we did it.