Art project coming to South Park combines art with community engagement
photo by: Libby Stanford
“Echoes through a Green Space,” an art project combining music, light projection, photography and public engagement, is coming to South Park this fall.
The project aims to celebrate the green space of Lawrence’s most iconic park through community participation, project leader Nick Carswell said. A large installation will be displayed in the park on Sept. 23 as the finale of the Free State Festival.
“We very quickly settled on South Park mainly because it’s such a well-utilized public green space,” Carswell said. “It’s vibrant, and it has a real diverse selection of activities for people from all walks of life from the whole community.”
Carswell came up with the idea for the project with artists Darin and Shannon White. They met at a public art event in Kansas City called Art in the Loop. They were interested in the process of translating sound to light and the importance of community involvement.
“When the community is involved, it has an ownership of sorts in the project,” said Darin, who is leading the visual aspect of the project with Shannon. “Then it’s a lot more interesting for everybody.”
The project involves a crowdsourcing component in which members of the community can post images or write stories about South Park on social media platforms using the hashtags #echoeslfk and #southparklfk.
“We really want the community to drive the process, to inform what we learn about the park, to share their stories and histories,” Carswell said.
The project partners with the Watkins Museum of History, eXplore Lawrence, the Lawrence Public Library and the Lawrence Arts Center to bring historical elements to the display.
“We’re thinking of that process (of collecting information) as echoes, so that’s where the word echoes came from,” Shannon said.
The project relies on collaboration between the artists involved, the community and project partners.
“We’re expecting people to have their own ideas of what the park means to them or what’s important to them,” Darin said. “Really the challenge is going to be, for us, to pull out the information that we find that’s the most in line with what we’re thinking.”
The project is still at the research phase, so many details have not been determined, Carswell said. Event-goers can expect audio combined with projections on various surfaces of the park.
“It’s experimental for us, which is appealing from an artist’s point of view,” he said.
Carswell, who is a musician, is taking on the music and audio aspect of the project with Kip Haaheim, a music composition professor at the University of Kansas.
“We’re interested in, from a music point of view, capturing the sounds of the park — both what happens currently, modern day sounds, but also recreating what we imagine the park might’ve sounded like in the past,” Carswell said. “I think the challenge is how it all fits together.”
The biggest challenge for the artists in this project is the aspect of collaboration, Darin said.
“As an artist, you create problems for yourself to solve,” he said. “You have to adjust your ideas based on those challenges or be able to roll with the punches of what happens in a project.”
“Echoes through a Green Space” will have more events leading up to the display of the installation in September, Carswell said. More information about the project can be found at its website, echoesproject.org.