When I started writing this blog, I intended to focus on technology and trends in the arts, but I think when we see something cool, whether it is high tech or decidedly the opposite, we need to celebrate it.
Last week, the City of Green Bay unveiled seven snow plows which had been painted by local school children. Here’s what they look like:
And here’s a closeup of my favorite:
(Love the fact that the Washington Middle School kids decided to do an Under the Sea theme…for a snow plow blade. But I digress)
Not only do I think this is a wonderful example of using art as a community engagement project, I also appreciate that Mayor Jim Schmitt introduced the plows as a “public art mural project” (even as the local television news described it as “students decorate snow plows“). To me, there’s a big difference between those two designations. The word “decorate” implies a frivolous activity, even as something has been made prettier. Creating a public art mural, however, has an air of importance about it, and one that was not lost on either the Mayor or the children he spoke to at the unveiling. He talked about how this project helped them to learn about the importance of snow plows and their role in helping to keep our city beautiful. He thanked them for their important service to their community.
As for the kids, they did learn a lot that went beyond “decorating.” They had to plan out a design which would transfer to the large, curved surface on which they were working. They had to study what kinds of paint would be appropriate, how to prepare the surface and protect the finished art. They had to work together. They created something that will serve as a community focal point they can point to all winter and be proud of.
Painting snow plows in many respects seems counter intuitive. As the news anchors joked, this will probably be an ongoing project since the paintings will probably get ruined in our big, bad frozen tundra winter. But I absolutely loved the idea. It shows that art can happen in the most surprising of places, and that when art is created, other good things happen.