COMMUNITY MURALS AS PROCESSES OF COLLABORATIVE ENGAGEMENT: CASE STUDIES IN URBAN AND RURAL PENNSYLVANIA

Open Access
Author:
Gyekis, Elody
Area of Honors:
Elective Area of Honors - Civic and Community of Engagement
Degree:
Bachelor of Fine Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Helen P O'leary, Thesis Supervisor
  • Rosa A Eberly, Thesis Supervisor
  • Mary Lou Z Munn, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • art
  • public
  • community
Abstract:
This thesis uses three community mural projects—two in inner-city Harrisburg and the Valley Roots Community Mural project in Millheim, Centre County—to analyze the impacts of collaborative community art. Contemporary technologies and materials that maximized collaborative community engagement were utilized in the mural-making processes. Local residents provided the visions for the themes and guided the designs, filled in the paint-by-number panels of the murals, helped to install the murals, and celebrated the unveiling. Community meetings, painting sessions, and unveiling ceremonies for these projects became opportunities for intergenerational and cross- cultural dialogue and relationship building. I discuss responses to the projects and analyze of community feedback in relation to an in-depth literature review of public art projects and related topics in the arts, communication, and social sciences. My analysis of formal and informal participant feedback and media coverage reveals three categories in which the mural project was highly successful for those who were engaged in it: the generation of social capital, the creation of amenities, and personal inspiration. The completed murals are lasting public art pieces—visual tributes to a collaborative community vision and each community's pride in the diverse physical and cultural aspects of its location and history.