In Columbus, Ohio, professional artists and community members joined forces to create a first-of-its-kind street art project.
Called Sign Your Art, the installation features small wooden tiles hung on sign posts around the city. When pinned to a Google Map, the sign posts spell “ART.”
So where do the art tiles come from?
They’re made by professional artists in visual arts, music, dance, film, literary arts and performance, as well as more than 700 visitors to the annual Columbus Arts Festival, where members of the community could paint a tile for free — and, of course, sign their work.
“Engaging with the community as they created their work was unbelievably rewarding,” says Sign Your Art co-director and artist Stephanie Rond. “People of all ages and backgrounds got involved. It was a complete cross-section of everyone who lives in Columbus. People just loved it!”
In addition to its community-building aspects and unique take on democratizing art by displaying it outside the gallery walls, this project gives professional artists more exposure to the general public while showing, not just telling, how art and artists help make a city more vibrant.
So much so, Google Arts & Culture recently recognized the 2015 Sign Your Art exhibition. https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/exhibit/XALCok8wjlWrJQ
“The outpouring of community support and a desire to be a part of the project was humbling,” Rond says. “We got to meet so many members of the community and so many people created amazing pieces. We received far more work than we could actually include. It was really tough to select from such a pool of amazing participants.”
It’s interesting to see what an artist comes up with when given a small, blank wooden tile and is told to do anything with it.
The unique multi-disciplinary nature of this project is intriguing from a curatorial perspective. The artists who lead the project (Rond and Catherine Bell Smith) worked hard to find diversity of form; they hosted a workshop for the literary arts professionals on how to transform language into something that breathes in a visual art space.
The project, which began in 2015, is supported by the Greater Columbus Arts Council, which wanted a community-wide art making experience to launch its “Art Makes Columbus, Columbus Makes Art” campaign that features and nurtures art in the capital city.
Sign Your Art was the perfect choice. It made Columbus its own gallery.
“It was amazing to have hundreds of people from all walks of life get together, sit around tables together, paint, draw, talk and have fun,” Rond says. “Art is a universal language that binds us together. It was incredible to experience that with so many awesome human beings in our city.”
Check out more and explore what the tile families look like on the the sign posts here:
Sign Your Art locations in Columbus, Ohio
Panels made by both professional and community artists are curated and hung on sign posts around the city.
Bryan Christopher Moss
Catherine Bell Smith
David Michael Butler
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