Two years ago, the creative-placemaking project called My Windham had its inaugural event. Work by more than a dozen artists was installed outdoors and inside shops on Willimantic’s Main Street for five weeks in the spring. The second bi-annual event, renamed The Windham Project, will take place from April 15 to May 25 with a new focus: Nobody will have to go inside any shops to enjoy art.
“We surveyed our visitors and they liked it best when it’s all outdoors,” said Eastern Connecticut State University art Professor Gail Gelburd, organizer of the project. “It’ll all be outdoors or in storefront windows. It’ll be open all the time, 24-7.” The project — funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the town, the university and private donations —also has burst out of the borders of the state.
“We want to promote Windham all over as a place for art,” said Gelburd. So this year, along with 18 artists (or art-making teams) from Connecticut, there are two participants from New Jersey and one from Albany, N.Y.
And possibly one from India. Majunaath Naik’s work “Heart in a Jar” was juried into the exhibit, to be shown in the window of Jamaican Me Crazy restaurant. Naik planned to attend the opening reception, but he was denied a visa to travel to the United States from his home in Goa, India. His artwork may make it here in time, but there’s a chance it won’t.
Gelburd learned another thing from the first event: When everyone is inside at a reception, no one is outside looking at art. This year’s opening reception on April 20 is a “walking, progressive” event. Visitors can get a map, stroll the mile from Town Hall to Jillson Square, see the artwork, watch performance artists and get free snacks at Main Street businesses.
Melica Bloom of Willimantic — who helped create many of the murals in this mural-obsessed town — will create a new mural. Kenneth Saintonge of Windham will install a video “portal” from Willimantic to Denton, Texas, where he goes to school. People who stand in front of the portal can see the main drag in Denton, and people in Denton can see them.
Carolyn Naegeli Slead of Coventry will repurpose waste plastic into an artwork at the Hooker Hotel, which coincidentally is owned by Willimantic Waste. Tatiana Sougakova of New Jersey will repurpose old CDs to create “jewelry” for the trees to wear. ECSU’s Visual Arts Club will repurpose used shoes to create a found-object sculpture that comments on the wealth gap. It will be placed across the street from the homeless shelter. Anyone who needs a pair of shoes can grab a pair from the installation and keep it.
Other artists who will participate, working in projection, kinetic, sound, performance, murals and sculptures, include John Byrne of Hamden, Karen Davis of Vernon, Lauren Duke of Windham, ECSU professor Belinda Gabryl, Robert Greene of Ledyard, Sean Langlais of Norwich, sisters Amelia and Gretta Ingraham of Coventry, Steven Kroeger of Albany, N.Y.; Mark McKee of Ledyard, Jerry Montoya of Meriden, Chris Plaisted of Milford, Afarin Rahmanifar of Manchester, Rosary Solimanto of New Jersey, Jim Turner of Windham and Brennan Yau of Willington. The jurors were Migdalia Salas, Emily Handlin and Gelburd, who also will show her art.
THE WINDHAM PROJECT will take place along Main Street in Willimantic from the Windham Town Hall to Jillson Square, from April 15 to May 25. The opening reception is April 20 from 5 to 8 p.m. windhamproject.org.
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The students of Professor Gail Gelburd’s Museums Studies Class have curated Ink’d: From Scarification to Personal Tatoos. This exhibition will be on view in the Student Center, room 223 from December 10th–17th, 2013. It opens on December 10 from 4-6 pm with a reception and series of educational and exciting events. The exhibition space will be open December 11th–13th from 12-2 pm and 5-7 pm, December 14th–17th from 12-2 pm.
Visitors will learn about sanitary means of tattooing and can get a henna tattoo drawn by one of the art majors. The exhibition focuses on the history and cultural variations of tattoos from African scarification to today’s proliferation of tattoos. The images are accompanied by didactic materials about each culture.
The students in the course devised the theme, conducted the research. They were divided into museum departments and curated the works, condition reported, catalogued and labeled the images, prepared accompanying educational programming, promoted the exhibition, managed the budget, and then designed the exhibition, the flyers, didactics, and labels. They worked as a team to carefully install the exhibition and open it up for public viewing.
Gail Gelburd is Professor of Art History.
For spring 2014, the Visual Arts Club will be creating a 2-dimensional group artwork investigating how individual and group identity might co-exist. The intention of the piece is to use the grid as the underlying structure containing individual artworks from members of the club. Each artwork will be 8 x 8 inches. When the artworks are hung together, using the grid, they will create a larger scaled artwork representing the clubs creativity, individuality and group persona.
For this group artwork, the overall theme is “Fantasy.” Individual pieces will be based on any sub theme such as sci-fi, romance, horror, steampunk, etc. Under those subthemes, Visual Arts Club member will have a lot of freedom to come up with a “scene” or idea. An investigation of media will be discussed, so to encourage the learning of new techniques in the visual arts.
For more information email the President, Emily Chubet, at firstname.lastname@example.org
To visit the Visual Arts Club’s Facebook page, click here.