Street art. Exhibitions. Art shows. Any situation where the public can see (and comment) on your art can be intimidating—at least it would be for me. But it can also be incredibly motivating.
Last month I wrote about the Big Bicycle Project, a cool challenge from the Kimball Jenkins School of Art. The concept was for local artists to reinvent—you guessed it—a bike into a work of art. The sculptures were then displayed on Main Street in Concord, New Hampshire. (You can read more about the project and see some of the sculptures here.)
It’s amazing how creative and diverse the artists’ works are. You can tell just how much thought and care went into each sculpture. And I’m happy to announce that this month’s featured artist can give us a glimpse into what it was like to make and display one of them.
Meet Althea Barton
What did you think when you heard about the bicycle challenge? Have you participated in similar projects before?
A: I loved the idea of ordinary people using a commonplace object like a bicycle to create unique works of public art. And for me, having an interesting project with a deadline is a great motivator. I’ve taken art classes, shown some work in student art exhibits, and once sold a painting of a fire station to a Manhattan fire chief, but I’d never done a sculpture project like this one before.
What was the inspiration behind your sculpture?
A: I was inspired by the controversy over the Fearless Girl statue that had been placed opposite the Charging Bull on Wall Street in NYC. Fearless Girl is a beautiful statue, and I was interested in how it engaged people in a dialogue about power.
My work had two parts: Fearless, the bull moose (since this is NH), and Bullish, a small pink bike with a lot of spunky details like bells and tassels. They were standing side by side. I don’t see why we can’t all be fearless and bullish and pull together. Unfortunately, Bullish went missing early on. Her sister may show up at some point…
I’m sorry to hear about Bullish. Were there any particular challenges you had or lessons you’ve learned in creating your artwork?
A: Welding is intense, amazing, and fun! My son and I learned basic welding at Manchester Makerspace, where the people were very supportive and encouraging.
What is it like to have your sculptures displayed in such a public place like Main Street? Were you nervous to have such a large audience, or was it more exciting?
A: It was very motivating to know the sculptures would be displayed on Main Street. It kept me striving.
Is there anything you’d like to say to artists thinking about being a part of an exhibition?
A: Go for it!
Lastly, do you have a website or social media where people can follow your upcoming work?
A: Not a personal one, though you can follow the Big Bicycle Project at www.kimballjenkins.com. Thanks for your interest—enjoy your art!
Thank you so much Althea!
You can find Althea’s and the other artists’ sculptures on Main Street through November. It’s been said that Kimball-Jenkins has plans for future exhibitions, and I’ll be sure to let you know what they are when I hear about them.
And who knows? After hearing what Althea had to say, I’m summoning the courage and getting excited about potentially participating in a future challenge.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!