The Arts Bus: Reaching the Community Heart through Art
This Community Story was written by Genny Albert, executive director of The Arts Bus.
On a rainy, windy Saturday morning in October, twenty Randolph villagers from across White River Valley were compelled by art and community to bring their willing hands and tools to a field of ryegrass on Route 66. Through the next seven hours, they worked in unison in masks and raingear to fulfill the artistic vision of Susannah Gravel and The Arts Bus to make Whisper in the Wind appear. By late afternoon, over 400 rainbow-colored flags waved in sunshine, fluttering messages of hope, love and empathy from villagers (ages 18 months to 95 years old) to each other and the world!
This art installation is one of four completed by The Arts Bus in towns this year for its PEACE by Piece Project, all with the same intent—to facilitate and foster community connection through art, even while physically distanced by the COVID-19 pandemic, suffering economic pain, and confronting civil unrest. In each town, The Arts Bus has worked with artists, schools, libraries, senior housing facilities, and businesses to create community collage art pieces to share. In Randolph, this involved distributing rainbow-colored flags made by Vermont Glove throughout East, West, and North Randolph, as well as Randolph Center and Village, asking villagers to personalize them, then collecting the flags for one big installation day.
Genny Albert, executive director of The Arts Bus, describes the experience. “When we started installation day, the work before us seemed daunting. We were a newly united team on an unknown journey, not entirely certain we’d finish. But we got right to it—sawing, stapling, pounding, hammering, and just figuring it out together. Around 3:30pm, I looked up to see a hawk catching the wind in its wings just as the sun broke through the clouds. Susannah called out ‘We’re done!” and for the first time, I looked back to see what we had created. My heart burst with joy at the colorful rainbow of flags waving at me in full sunlight.”
The shared moment of celebration was made possible by a Spark Connecting Community grant from Vermont Community Foundation. The Community Foundation seeded the funding for The Arts Bus PEACE by Piece Project, paving the way for the bus to start the program, recognizing the importance of making a timeless representation of community connection at a fateful moment in human history.
The Arts Bus will continue the PEACE by Piece Project in 2021 with towns across Central Vermont.
Albert explains, “It is a powerful program because it safely enables us to express individually and as one, putting on display how the sum of the whole is greater than its parts, a feat not achievable without working together. The PEACE by Piece Project is life support to the community heart through art.”
Watch a video of the PEACE by Piece installation in Randolph.
Nonstop for over 10 years, The Arts Bus empowers joy & authentic self-expression through art! To support the incredible, enduring work of The Arts Bus, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, www.artsbusvt.org, or @ArtsBusVT on Facebook.
How can you see Whisper in the Wind?
Whisper in the Wind is installed below Whale Dance (Exit 4 off I-89) through winter as a rainbow-colored fluttering inspiration of hope, love & empathy from the Town of Randolph to the world. Messages on each flag are from villagers ranging in age from 18 months to 95 years, goodwill gifts during challenging times.