Written by Wes Schmidgall
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 00:00
Photo by Illinois State University Instructor Dick Folse.
BLOOMINGTON — For a about a month, a community chalkboard has been hanging on the side of the West Bloomington Revitalization Project building.
Since early December, several people have signed the 16-by-8-foot chalkboard that is located at the corner of Washington and Allin streets in Bloomington and was built for residents of West Bloomington to express their wishes and dreams for their community.
“We installed it in early December,” said Dick Folse, an Illinois State University instructor in the College of Fine Arts who helped create the community chalkboard. “A lot of people have written on it. We’ve had a number of different types of things written on it.”
Students in a class that Folse taught created and installed the community chalkboard.
“There is a class at Illinois State University called Art and Community Development within the College of Fine Arts and the purpose of the class is to work on civic engagement for undergraduate and graduate students,” said Folse. “We get them out in the community and get them working on art projects that are related to community development. This class was really interested in what community means and people’s sense of community, especially on the west side of Bloomington, which is an area that has more need than maybe some areas in Bloomington-Normal.”
The community chalkboard was inspired by a similar project in New Orleans by Cindy Chang.
“There’s an artist who does public art who’s based out of New Orleans and she’s done a number of really great projects,” said Folse. “She did a community chalkboard project right after (Hurricane) Katrina and since that time people have done these types of projects all over the world.”
A new prompt containing a question for people to answer will be stenciled on the top of the community chalkboard periodically. The prompt, “When I dream about my community…” was stenciled across the top of the community chalkboard when it was installed in early December. Underneath the prompt are 20 spaces where people complete the phrase, “I see.”
“There’s a prompt painted on the board,” said Folse. “The prompt will be changed periodically, but it really is to get the ideas or thoughts about people in the community, specifically the part in the west side because that’s the part of the community it’s located in. The chalk is there all the time for people to write on the board.”
The West Bloomington Revitalization Project will use the ideas and thoughts that people write on the wall to help them create programs and projects.
“West Bloomington Revitalization Project is working to revitalize this area and they have always been an organization that is been driven by the residents in that area, and so to kind of construct the feedback move of what people who are in that area are thinking about different topics in the community and then being able to take that information and use that to guide their programming, made a lot of sense,” said Folse. “They were very interested in having the board as part of their programming and on their building.”
The Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal monitors the community chalkboard on a daily basis to make sure no graffiti is written on it.
“We have not had a lot of issues with people writing things that are not appropriate for the board, but they do watch that,” said Folse.
The Blank Canvas Program, an effort of the Illinois Wesleyan University Action Research Center and Illinois State University College of Fine Arts aimed at promoting art and college for youth in Bloomington-Normal, provided the funds for the construction and installation of the community chalkboard.
“The board was financed using grant money from the Blank Canvas Program,” said Folse. “It was a fairly small budgeted project.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 15:50