SALT LAKE CITY – Many Utahns are searching for hope right now. The ongoing pandemic and civil unrest left a lot of people feeling emotionally unsettled, and officials with the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City decided to do something to inspire hope.
"We wanted to create a project that provided messages of hope, unity and resilience to the community," said Corinne Piazza, project manager for the SLC RDA.
Art for Hope is an outdoor exhibit residents can enjoy while social distancing, whenever you're looking for a new perspective.
"What I love about this project is it was truly a blank canvas," said Piazza. "It's a 4-foot-by-4-foot square, and anything went within that square as long as it was a positive message."
In the midst of a pandemic and civil upheaval, the RDA wanted to bolster community strength and togetherness. That's exactly what local artists like Kevin Bowen were looking for. He just had his first exhibit canceled in April.
"It's a chance to give voice to some of that frustration, but also give a path to healing," Bowen said.
He said in his art, it is his intent to not just point out the problem, but show a way out. Like Bowen's message cubes which are tough to decipher at first. But, as one on display on Highland Drive reads, "It will all be OK."
"You see that reflected in a lot of the pieces here, that people do see that there is change coming," Bowen said, looking at the array of art on display.
#ArtforHopeSLC was launched by the @slcrda this summer when it called on Utah artists to submit original, digital artwork depicting messages of hope, resilience, and unity. #SaltLakeStrong#SLC#PublicArt#SaltLakeCity— SLC Economic Development (@slcecondev) November 21, 2020
Read more: https://t.co/RiLTp3xcB1
The RDA selected 33 artists to install 43 art pieces on three properties in the downtown, North Temple and Sugar House neighborhoods.
Here's where you can find them:
- 1500 West North Temple (north side of the street, fence wrap)
- 255 South State Street (east side of the street, fence wrap)
- 2235 South Highland Drive (on the blue building)
"Anyone in this time is up and down, and this is one of the ups," said Jessica Wiarda, another artist participating in the displays.
She created a hummingbird print while searching for hope herself.
"It was kind of a rough time in my life because I recently lost my grandma," she said.
Her grandmother was the matriarch of her extended family with Hopi ancestral roots. A hummingbird visited Wiarda's mother just before the passing of her grandmother.
"She got the call a few minutes later that grandma had passed," Wiarda said. "So it was like a soft spot for me. So I kind of wanted to make a hummingbird in honor of my grandma."
Both artists said it's a challenging time financially because galleries have closed and exhibits have been postponed. From a standpoint of inspiration, challenging times often lead to the best works of art.
"A lot of my art comes from the tough times that I've had personally," said Bowen.
The installations and a virtual gallery are the expressions of diverse artistic inspiration. The artists also each received $1,000.
"So we've been able to infuse $43,000 into the artist community," said Piazza.
Messages of hope for everyone.
"Really, the artists brought it to life," Piazza said. "We can't wait to share it with the community."