The newest public art in Carlisle could be coming to Memorial Park.
Rob Davis and Caroline Laurent’s Archetype Angle Art has proposed a mural featuring Carlisle educator Emma Thompson McGowan for the exterior of Hope Station. The mural also touches on themes that include the Lincoln Cemetery, basketball at the park and the old train station itself.
The proposal has to make its way through the parks and recreation board and the borough council before it joins the ranks of public art projects undertaken in the borough in recent years. Projects include Color Carlisle’s mural on the side of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and the recent Art While You Wait project as well as individual projects like Carlisle Fairy Doors by an anonymous group that places the fairy doors at locations around town for visitors to find or Carlisle Arts Learning Center’s projects at the CenturyLink Building and Sadler Health Center.
Davis talked more in depth about the Hope Station project for this week’s 5 Questions.
Q. Why did you select Hope Station as a local for a mural?
A. Hope Station was selected because it is at Memorial Park. I grew up walking home from school at Bellaire and Wilson and playing with my friends there. Back then, I had dreams of creating a mural at Memorial Park because I spent a lot of time there, had many friends in the area and live very close myself. However, as I got older that dream drew stronger because I realized that this specific area got a lot of attention, but not necessarily the right kind. I believe that public murals can cause an influx in community pride, and what better place to spark that than one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Carlisle?
Q. What images are included in the proposed mural, and why?
A. The mural we are proposing would be in two parts that go together. It contains imagery that we not only feel fits this community and the area’s history, but also was realized through many returned questionnaires which were handed out at the park during one of the Hope Stations events earlier this summer and completed by local residents.
We decided to use Emma Thompson McGowan, who was a teacher at both the segregated Lincoln and old Wilson school. We chose her because she is a Carlisle icon for education and togetherness.
She is shown reaching into our American flag which has a message that pays homage to the graves that were disgracefully removed from this place in the 1970s which was once a segregated cemetery where more than 30 Civil War heroes still reside. The flag appears to have a hole in the shape of the “keystone.” The Hope Station train asks you to “Get on board” as it appears to travel inside of the building through this keystone shaped hole. tracks for the train are connected connected as Emma reaches out to another hand which disappears into the building.
On the right corner, a space again opens up on the corner of the wall, where another hand in that chain is holding up the Earth. The Earth, which is textured like a basketball, represents the strength that play has, and the possibility of the world’s kids all playing together. Under this we have a classroom with a simple “work problem” on the chalkboard. This math problem shows the power of working together as all the kids whose hands are painted in the colors of the rainbow all have the answer.
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Q. What steps do you have to take to get permission to do the mural?
A. It all comes down to our elected borough council member’s decisions. We urge you to please reach out to them to express your support for public art.
We are currently on the agenda for the parks and recreation meeting Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. in room 3 of the Stuart Community Center. We also urge you to come to this meeting to show your support, if you can make it.
We will be presenting the mural to the parks and recreation board who is appointed by the Carlisle Borough Council members which are voted on by us. Continued community support is the only way to get the permission we need. So please consider showing yours!
Q. How can the public help make the mural a reality?
A. The public has already started. Thank you to all the people who filled out the questionnaires which we used to design the mural. We appreciate your thoughts and couldn’t have done it without you. There will hopefully be many more opportunities for the public to get involved given that we can get our borough council fully on board.
We are donating all of our time and talent, but are planning to raise funds for supplies. We estimate we would need between $500-700 to make this dream a reality. This is a very small fraction of what murals of this quality usually cost.
We plan to create a Kickstarter where community members and community businesses can donate at certain values and receive “perks” such as their initials or hand print as a star on the mural, limited edition t-shirts of the mural or business logo as a planet in the mural design.
Other ways the public can be involved is during the painting of the mural. We hope to have events which surrounds its creation, and even a “community paint day” where the community can work with local artists to create a community mural.
Q. As an artist, what do you think of this focus on community art that’s been blossoming over the past few years?
A. I think it’s great! As I mentioned before, murals are a great way to get people and communities to feel pride and see beauty where they live. I think Philadelphia is a great example of the power of public art. Places that used to be littered with trash are now cared about more because of the art that was put In certain locations. Not only by the city but by its residents. I think that the Carlisle Borough should see this as a great opportunity and should consider themselves lucky to be representing so many amazing artists who live and work right here in our town. We recently created the “Carlisle-a-dile” traffic box art on the corner of West and High st along with Color Carlisle who is working on the ground level to implement more public art in our town. I think that Carlisle is slowly getting on board with this public art movement and hope that this Hope Station/Memorial Park mural can be the catalyst that is needed to see more public art in Carlisle in the near future.