Four students at the University of the Arts will be installing their design motifs throughout the Washington Square West neighborhood this spring, transforming those ubiquitous brown utility boxes placed at each traffic light into works of art. They will be covered with a directly adhered, durable vinyl, and their designs will mimic patterns found in nearby architectural features, light and shadow, and tree and plant life. Mark Campbell, Dean of the College of Art, Media & Design at UArts, says site specificity is of utmost importance in the project: "Every work of art, if it is well done and responsible, will always be responsive to its environment."
The newly-clad brown boxes will fit right in next to the Mural Arts "Litter Bug" solar trash compactors, installed on South Street in 2011, and the rare and treasured Joe Boruchow wheat pastes adorning the side of a postbox or two along the street.
The students: Monica Morris, Lee Reed, Corinne Sandkuhler, and Stephanie Wademan, are all seniors studying towards a BFA with a sculpture concentration. Monica Morris says:
Seeing that brick and rectilinear patterns are so repetitive along South Street, one of my design motifs attempts to exaggerate these patterns that form a general backdrop, but may escape notice due to recurrent use...My intention here is to incorporate the alternating brick pattern and proportions, but exaggerate scale and color in a playful and humorous way. The project, developed during a special independent study project, has received approval from the City of Philadelphia Department of Streets and the Philadelphia Art Commission, with initial funding coming from the Washington Square West Civic Association and the University of the Arts. Since the weather has to be above 60 degrees for the vinyl coverings to stick, we can expect installation to take place in late spring.
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