3 Ways Art Improves Small Communities 

Friday, November 25, 2011 4:07:27 PM

Art brings color and life to a space. It can make you feel a range of emotions and can turn an abandoned building into a giant canvas. When you think of art, what do you think of? Paintings, sculptures, performances? What about community revitalization and development?

Read on to learn about 3 big ways art can improve small communities.

Art Engages Young People

Art actually engages all people, but engaging young people is key. Young people represent the future of your community, so it's important to involve them in community activities and art projects.

Community art projects can help young people become socially conscious, confident, and responsible individuals that can continue to shape and promote a healthy, balanced community.

Additionally, having and promoting an arts community in your town will make your town more inviting and welcoming to tourists, youth, and people in general. Just because a community is small doesn't mean it lacks culture, diversity, or art.

This past summer, Diane Baurele spearheaded a community art project in Confluence, PA, which involved 57 members of the community in an effort to design, prep, and paint 13 telephone poles throughout the town. The project's liaison was Jody Best of the Confluence Creative Arts Center.

The project made an effort to engage students from Turkeyfoot Valley High School as well as younger kids, but was open to all community members. Each telephone pole represents a piece of Confluence history and culture. The one pictured below represents the town's biking culture as a Trail Town along the Great Allegheny Passage.

Confluence Telephone Pole

This project is just one of many art projects happening in the Trail Towns to engage young people and all community members. What kind of art projects are happening in your town? Tell us below and read on to learn more!

Art Creates a Sense of Place

What defines your surroundings? Art creates a sense of place by providing something unique in your community whether a mural, sculpture, or gallery.

But creating a sense of place is more complex than simply defining an aspect of your community's culture and/or history. A sense of place is important because it offers you a sense of belonging and being, which is an essential part of life and feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally stable.

There are public art projects throughout the Trail Towns and along the Great Allegheny Passage that help create a sense of place in each individual town and/or section of the trail.

One such project can be found in Meyersdale. Carolyn Quinn's mural on the former Maple City Tire building represents Meyersdale culture and history and also stands as a welcome to tourists and town visitors, all while offering a sense of place. One angle of the mural is pictured below, and was part of the Trail Town Public Art Program in 2008.

 

Meyersdale Mural

More recently, Diane Adams completed another mural in Meyersdale on the Somerset Trust Co. bank building. Read more about this project here.

What offers you a sense of place in your community? Comment below.

Art Advocates Creative Reuse

Efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle items whether clothing, batteries, or packaging is an important part of creating a sustainable community. Many artists reuse objects to create a new piece of art.

In Rockwood, PA, Scott Hostettler and Bill Gurzenda created a metal sculpture of a steam locomotive with used bike and train parts. The sculpture, pictured below, is located near the Rockwood trail head on the Great Allegheny Passage.

Rockwood Sculpture

This project was also a part of the Trail Town Public Art Program in 2008. Hostettler and Gurzenda completed the sculpture as a donation to Somerset County.

Another creative reuse project can be found in Connellsville at ArtWorks Connellsville. Recently, the gallery opened a creative reuse store where you can drop off unwanted items that can be reused for a variety of art projects.

Tell us about creative reuse projects happening in your community. Comment below.

For more information about how art can improve communities, check out this article by Tom Borrup.

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