Steelworkers Memorial Mural – the whole story

Steel Workers Memorial Mural
Created for: 2012 Spring on 4th Event, Southside Bethlehem, PA
Sponsored by: ArtsLehigh Resident Artist Program, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA
Contact: Dr. Silagh White (siw205@lehigh.edu)
With Permission of:
Bethlehem Steel Workers Union, Steel Workers archive, City of Bethlehem Parks and Recreation and Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission, and the South Bethlehem Historical Society.

Thank you to: ArtsQuest, Banana Factory Visual Arts Department – Director, Janice Lipzin,  Bethlehem City Parks and Recreation Director, Ralph Carp, the planning committee of the 2012 Spring on Fourth Festival, and all students and citizens who helped create the mural.

Artist Statement:
The Steel Workers Memorial 3D Illusion Mural was created as an instrument to connect Lehigh University with the local community by making public, interactive art that all can enjoy. Our community centers around the history of the making of steel and the Memorial reflects the importance of the past as we move on into the future living and working together.

The Southside is now going through a renaissance as it finds its own special sources of creative and cultural offerings that are so unique to that community. The sharing of public art is a great way to bring people together as they participate in the creation and enjoyment of experiencing a piece of art such as this mural.

The mural is 45 feet long by 20 feet wide and it is centered around a bronze statue on a brick courtyard. The illusion represents standing on an observation platform looking down into a steel plant as they are pouring molten steel. The forced perspective creation is designed for the camera’s eye and the illusion forms through that mechanical reproduction.

We plan to do more temporary as well as permanent works of this nature, always with sensitivity to the neighborhood and the hope of bringing people together to share in one common goal……Create community through creativity!

Thank you for sharing our vision with your Community. I hope it brings joy to all who interact with it …take lots of pictures!

Holly Fields-Scott
http://www.BellaPintura.com
1-484-538-6965

The artist was kind enough to document the progression of the mural as well as some community interaction with the piece on the 2012 Spring on 4th festival. To view the documentation,

CLICK HERE

Addendum from ArtsLehigh Director, Silagh White:
It is a pleasure to work with artists who have a vision of bringing the community together through a shared creative experience. Ms. Fields-Scott was sensitive not only to embrace Bethlehem’s industrial past, but also in the installation of the work itself. The bricks on the site has names of the men and women who worked at Bethlehem Steel; some lost their lives in the plant. In order to set the mural onto this sacred space, Ms. Fields-Scott designed the mural to be painting on canvas off site, and placed on the site temporarily so as not to damage the brick.

Some of the continuing work of the Steelworker’s Union and the Steelworker’s Archive is to inform our present day citizens of the difficult and dangerous conditions of working in Steel factories. This piece honors the memory of all the Steelworkers, while sparking the viewer’s imagination as they engage with the 3-dimensional aspect of tromp l’oeil.

Lehigh University students were offered opportunity to work with the artist in creating the mural; not only witnessing how a 3-D tromp l’oeil piece is executed, but in the way community buy-in must be considered in the space in which any mural will appear.

My work with the piece; obtaining the permit of those responsible for the space, and permission from those who have an emotional connection to the space were brought into the proposal early. Assurances of no permanent damage to the brick, and the artist sketch were key to their acceptance of the vision. They were updated on the project throughout. This awareness was learned through the WildFlower mosaic mural project (led by artist Loly Reynolds and the Community Artists of Bethlehem) we supported in 2005, as part of the President Gast Inaugural Weekend Activities (April 14, 2005). The mural was also integrated into the Religion Studies course taught by professor Norman Girardot:  REL 144 (ART 144) “Raw Vision: Creativity and Ecstasy in the Work of Shamans, Mystics, and Artist Outsiders.” For more information on that activity, please read the news archive here.

Each community engagement through art informs the next innovation or creative idea. This post is intended to document the vision and goals of the artist, as well as the what we do behind the scenes to meet the mission of ArtsLehigh: linking art, learning and life. We fully embrace our community as our campus; opening a bounty of ways in which Lehigh University students can learn about Bethlehem’s past and present, while discovering more about what and how they will contribute to society today and the the future.

We hope to be able to place the temporary mural on sight in the future. Any inquiries to placing the Steelworkers Memorial Mural for another viewing can contact me directly.


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