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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Looking back on 2013, I think the most challenging yet enjoyable project I took part in was the Morgantown Tree by artist Carol Hummel.

The School of Art and Design at West Virginia University invited Hummel to be a visiting artist for the 2013-2014 academic year. In addition to having a gallery exhibition, she put forth a proposal to work with students and community members to cover a large tree on our Evansdale Campus with crocheted yarn. Hummel has an impressive record of creating similar crocheted installations in Cleveland Heights, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Drangedal, Norway and New Delhi, India, so I thought it would be quite a coup for her to create a project in Morgantown.

Once Hummel’s project was approved, a workforce had to be organized to make all the crocheted elements. I served as Hummel’s de facto project manager, helping her coordinate with the university and community groups involved in the installation. Because this was a once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity, we decided early on that our sculpture students would assist Hummel. Members of the Morgantown community, including campus knitting groups and residents at The Village at Heritage Point (a senior retirement community), also made invaluable contributions to this project. There was palpable synergy among all participants, and due to excellent teamwork and a stretch of great weather, the installation was finished in only six days.

The Morgantown Tree was created in conjunction with Morgantown’s 2013 celebration of The Year of the Tree (YOTT). By choosing a prominent location for this installation, Hummel’s project enjoyed high visibility for both on-and off-campus populations. She used an open stitch for this installation, which allows the trees to breathe without damaging their growth, and her chosen synthetic yarn will hold its color well for the next several years.
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As 2013 winds down, I am taking time this month to recap several large-scale collaborative art projects I have spearheaded over the past year.

In the summer of 2012, I received a Campus-Community LINK program grant from the West Virginia University Center for Service and Learning, through the West Virginia Campus Compact. This pilot program, funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation in partnership with The West Virginia Community Development Hub, was designed to connect community groups and faculty members throughout West Virginia to facilitate dynamic service learning projects.

This project was initially focused on creating an artisan co-op in Elizabeth, West Virginia, which would enable community members to sell their locally made products. Due to space and logistical issues, this part of the project never came to fruition. Instead, we focused on the secondary aspects of the project, which involved refurbishing local business signage and building a kiosk for sharing historical and community information. The Sign Factory in Morgantown did a great job printing both the historical and the business signage, and fabrication of the kiosk was finished this past summer. After the kiosk was delivered to the community members, they installed it this fall on the town square in Elizabeth.

This project also generated a great deal of conceptual drawings and unrealized plans, and I have included these images in the slideshow because they are interesting artifacts of the process. This project went on much longer than I anticipated, but I am pleased with the results, and I think the community members and my students both learned a great deal.