Reported by Natasha Chang
Shary Bartlett believes that residents collaborating to make public art can strengthen a sense of community, and the South Hill neighbourhood is a testament to this.
The Langara fine arts instructor said a two-year weaving project she participated in with South Hill community, for example, has led to their tight-knit neighbourhood. The project was collaborative and multicultural because the tapestry they made weaved together fabrics from each participant’s culture.
Sharing public art experiences
Bartlett, an artist herself, will be speaking about her work with South Hill residents Nov. 26. at the Vancouver Public Library in her lecture, ‘the magic of collaborative public art.’ The lecture is part of Langara’s continuing studies’ Community Lecture Series.
The multicultural South Hill community plans and hosts the South Hill Festival, which began in 2002. Each year Bartlett has taken part in art activities that have brought the community closer together.
“[The] idea was that weaving cuts across cultures, in every culture people weave, you don’t need to know languages to be able to weave,” Bartlett said.
“Relationships with neighbours can’t help but start as you’re working on an art project together as a community project. It gets neighbours meeting neighbours, and once you get to know your neighbours, you create what’s called social capital.”
The value of community
This social capital, Bartlett said, is being familiar with your neighbours and looking out for one another because of this familiarity.
Like Bartlett’s own experience in the South Hill Festival, her lecture will reflect on the people of South Hill and their histories, as well as their relationship to their community.
Jeff Burgess, Langara continuing studies visual arts program coordinator, said the significance of collaborative public art is community engagement, the inclusive environment, and the opportunity to collectively create art.
“Making art accessible, we can all contribute. Art isn’t just for artists who sell work in galleries: it’s something everybody can do. We can all contribute collectively and create something that beautifies our neighbourhood,” Bartlett said.
Art empowers individuals, brings issues to awareness, and stimulates civic discussion, she added about the connection between art and the general idea of community.
These murals are part of a large-scale community art gallery put up around the South Hill neighbourhood to promote public art in the area.