June 2015

Sign Your Art Columbus 2015

Greater Columbus Arts Council

This first-of-its-kind street art project engaged local artists and members of the public to create a unique art installation across the entire city of Columbus. The project is the brainchild of Columbus artist Stephanie Rond. Rond and fellow project director, artist Catherine Bell Smith, helped more than 600 people make tiles at the 2015 Columbus Arts Festival. To provide inspiration, 64 tiles were created by professional artists in visual arts, music, dance, film and performance in advance of the festival. Approximately 300 community tiles created at the Arts Festival werecurated and installed in groups of five, each set containing an inspirational tile and four community tiles, on street signs across the city in mid to late July 2015. The entire installation spells out the word “ART” when pinned on a Google Map of Columbus. New art will be created in 2017 by artists and the community at the Columbus Arts Festival and installed in the same locations mid- to late summer 2017. 

The Sign Your Art Public Art Project was launched in Columbus Ohio in 2015. The Greater Columbus Arts Council's role was to help bring the project to life with funding and resources.

We envisioned a project with potential to change perceptions of where art can be viewed.

The brainchild of Columbus street artist Stephanie Rond, Sign Your Art was brought to life by Rond and fellow artist Catherine Bell Smith.

Involving visual artists, writers and performers in the creation of the inspirational pieces, they literally put Columbus ART on the map and into the forefront of community-driven public art.

The project is meant to be a physical manifestation of the Art Makes Columbus campaign that launched in 2015. The campaign focuses on the stories of our city’s artists, in all disciplines.

A number of pieces were mixed media or represented a performing artists visual interpretation of their craft.

This sign has proven that people do still read. The back of this panel was covered with chewed gum.

Columbus performance artist Heidi Madsen's piece was the first numbered tile in letter "R"

Bringing together the multi-faceted creative community was a challenge, but the call to participate was well met by a multi-disciplinary group of 64 Columbus-based artists.

Rond and Bell Smith cut, drilled, sanded and primed 5,000 5” x 7” tiles. Since this had never been done, and the Arts Festival attendance tops 450,000, they wanted to be prepared.

Engaging the community during the Columbus Arts Festival proved to be by far the easiest task.

Arts Festival attendees were given space and materials to create their own tiles to be considered for inclusion in the final display.

People who attend the Arts Festival are weather-hardened art enthusiasts. Their excitement in creating tiles (some worked for several hours on their pieces) was an inspiration to everyone.

After the Festival, Rond and Smith spent many more hours curating the collections and creating sets that “worked together.”

Image by project creator Stephanie Rond exemplifies her large format street art style in a small space.

Pieces by writers helped bring poetry to unexpected places.

While Rond and Bell Smith were installing the tiles, they got waves and nods and answered questions from people who happened by. They were a hit when they distributed the popular ART FAN stickers.

Workers at a West Broad St. business were excited to have the tiles within sight of their store. A manager warned that they would never last a month without total destruction. All pieces survived.

Sign Your Art public will be recreated in 2017 at the Arts Festival with new pieces installed in the same locations later in summer of 2017.

The Columbus creative community and the community at large is looking forward the new work next year.

Rond relates a tale of a man waiting at the Parsons bus stop. “He watched patiently and without comment until we were walking away." see next caption...

"He hopped off his perch and sidled over to get a much better look. The nod of approval he tossed our way, casual to him, warmed our hearts.”

Rond and Bell Smith want to thank everyone for the support, encouragement and engagement they experience while creating, producing and installing Sign Your Art.

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