Monday, March 12, 2007

Celebrate Windham Kids and Creativity


[8 March 2007 - By Steve Dahlberg - Willimantic, Connecticut] The Windham Arts Center (WAC) will host the opening exhibition of "Creativity: The Heart of Community" Windham Banner Project on Saturday, March 17, from 1 to 4 p.m., with a special presentation at 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and will take place in The Annex at WAC, 866 Main Street, Willimantic, Conn.

The Windham community will celebrate public art designed and created by 1300 students from Windham's four elementary schools, including Natchaug, North Windham, Sweeney, and Windham Center. Sixty-four unique banner designs will be hung on Main Street lampposts in Willimantic as public art -- created BY the community FOR the community.

Artist JoAnn Moran of rePublicArt worked with students and teachers for three weeks as part of the Windham Schools Artist-in-Residence Program, which is supported by a $50,000 gift from the Ossen Fund for Arts Education. Through the use of recycled vinyl billboards as the banner material, Moran helped students learn about the importance of sustainability, public art and creative communities.

The Windham Banner Project is part of an ongoing creative community project, working to promote the value of creativity, arts and culture in community and economic development. The 3 p.m. program will represent members of this broader community, including performance artists from the Windham High School Young Poets group, advocate and organizer LaResse Harvey, artist JoAnn Moran, Willimantic resident Steven Dahlberg, and others. Plus, meet the young artists, view an exhibition of their design process, see the banners on Main Street, and share your ideas for future creative community projects.

The City of Toronto Poet Laureate Pier Giorgio Di Cicco says of community creativity: "Creativity is that celebration where people re-invent the world ... where they can be themselves and think imaginatively. ... People want to be accepted and acknowledged in their creative skills as citizens. What they are is already creative. The project is to have them recognize it."

In this spirit, the Willimantic creative community projects include several goals and benefits:

  • Using creativity and arts to engage the public in their community.
  • Providing visual beautification elements through public art to the downtown district.
  • Showcasing the creation of sustainable art and green communities.
  • Celebrating the diversity of the community -- including male and female, multi-generational, multi-ethnic, and multi-organizational.
  • Building on and complementing current arts and cultural initiatives, such as Third Thursday Willimantic Street Fest, the Cinema Project, the Willimantic Victorian Home Tour, the Windham Theatre Guild, the Romantic Willimantic Chocolate Festival,
    among many others.
  • Offering educational programs that help Windham students and adults develop and apply their creative thinking skills.

Two of the young banner artists expressed some benefits of creativity and public art: "Public art will help everyone in town imagine wonderful things," and "Our lamppost banners will make our
city feel creative. Our public art will also make our creativity shine to our town."

Additional supporters of the Windham Banner Project include Willimantic Waste/The DeVivo Family, Town of Windham, Windham Arts Center, The Home Depot, rePublicArt, and the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination.


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