Community art can be a powerful and healing experience. Both the transformational process of creation, as well as the finished artwork provide communities with renewal, hope, and inspiration. From murals and gardens that revive a neglected area, to recycled art highlighting environmental issues, to projects that unite separated individuals or help people to heal after a tragedy, the possibilities are endless. It only takes one person’s passion to start an art movement! What would YOU like to start in your community?
The Arts & Healing Network’s Web site offers an extensive listing of community art projects and organizations. We will introduce a few here and hope you will feel INSPIRED! We encourage you to consider how these examples or others could be beneficial where you live. Feel free to share ideas with us here or on the post related to this article on our Facebook page.
Washed Ashore Project: Creating “Art to Save the Sea,” Washed Ashore is non-profit, community-based organization with a mission of educating and creating awareness about marine debris and plastic pollution through art.
Lead artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi corrals community members of all ages to participate as she pursues her true passion of cleaning up the world’s oceans. Volunteers and staff have removed thousands of pounds of debris from beaches that are turned into unique pieces of art which are included in a traveling exhibition. The exhibition includes educational signage designed to raise awareness about the need to reduce waste, repurpose, and recycle. For more info, visit www.washedashore.org.
The Art Miles Mural Project: For 12 years, children and adults from around the world have come together to promote global peace and harmony via colorful and vibrant mural art. With a goal of developing and advocating for art versus violence, cooperation versus war, and continuation of life rather than death, the project has become an artistic symbol of peace. See more examples of Art Miles murals at www.artmiles.org.
Fruit of the Orchard: Often a project plays a role in supporting a larger community movement. This took place when photographer Tammy Cromer-Campbell created a powerful series, “Fruit of the Orchard,” about the residents of Winona, a rural Texas community of 500 people living downwind of a toxic-waste injection-well facility. Winona children had suffered from conditions such as birth defects to rare tumors and cancers and a group called Mothers Organized to Stop Environmental Sins (MOSES) organized to lead the fight to shut down the plant.
Cromer-Campbell’s photographs and accompanying stories inspire a desire for justice by bringing light to a painful issue and giving her subjects a voice and humanity. The project included a variety of accompanying essays, such as from the founder of MOSES regarding the history of the fight. The good news? The plant closed in 1998, citing the negative publicity and community activism. Learn more about the project and see more photos at Fruit of the Orchard.
The Laundromat Project: “Wash Clothes – Make Art – Build Community.” The Laundromat Project strives to bring art, artists, and arts programming into laundromats and other everyday spaces. Built upon the belief that creativity already exists within communities, the Project nurtures and amplifies that creativity to build community networks, solve problems, and enhance each individual’s sense of ownership in the places where he or she lives, works, and grows. Programs make art education more accessible, create new public works in neighborhoods, encourage peer networks, and provide mentorship opportunities. For more about the project, visit www.laundromatproject.org.
Blog post by Cindi Saadi for the RAL