A new clothing company found one of its early inspirations in a Carlisle High School art teacher.
The second offering from Harrisburg-based Murage features a mural painted by Amie Bantz for the city’s Art Outside the Box project last summer. The mural features an illustration of the Harrisburg skyline that was painted on a utility box.
Murage creative director Bryan Speece said 10 percent of all purchases of the company’s streetwear goes to support murals and street art in local communities.
“Public art is important to the character and unity of a community, and this is a great way for people to show their love of art and support for local artists,” he said in a news release.
Bantz talked about the collaboration in this week’s five questions.
Q. How did the collaboration with Murage come about?
A. I initially collaborated with Murage because they needed models for their first T-shirt launch and they found me on Instagram (social media is a pretty cool thing). Oddly enough, I don’t think they realized that I myself am an artist. It was through conversation that we came to the conclusion that a T-shirt design in my style would work well for their brand’s initiative. From there it kind of just took off. I got to combine my loves of drawing, design, clothing and artist advocation.
Q. Have you seen one of the shirts, and what did you think when you saw it?
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A. I have seen the shirts and I think they are great. They are fun, relatively simple and capture the essence of Harrisburg. My goal in this project was to create a city skyline that would capture the attention of viewers and portray Harrisburg in an exciting and colorful way. I love wearing apparel from my small hometown in New Hampshire, and I wanted to create something that locals here could wear proudly as well.
Q. This week, you’ll be working on a utility box in Carlisle. How are you approaching this project differently or similarly to the Harrisburg project?
A. This week I am working on a utility box that includes an illustration of different aspects of Carlisle. Similar to my Harrisburg mural, it is my goal to create an image that is recognizable and sparks joy. I enjoy creating art that makes people happy, it is as simple as that. I have found that including familiar imagery with bright color ensures that. I have lived in Harrisburg for years and have been able to get a sense of all the things that make it unique. It was a little challenging jumping into this Carlisle mural since I am not a resident here. Thankfully, my students live here and know the ins-and-outs of their hometown better than anyone. They were my best assets in this project, and it was such an inspiration getting to see them light up when brainstorming different aspects of this town that they love and find important.
Q. What makes public art an important part of the Carlisle landscape?
A. Generally speaking, I believe public art is important and necessary. Mural painting is not about me, a singular artist and what I can create. It is about the community around the work of art. Public art allows people to come together to witness the creation of something. I want the public art I create to be a reminder that art has the power to bring people together. This is the community’s space, and my ideas and abilities are simply the vehicle to make their/our home more beautiful.
Q. As a teacher, what do you hope to communicate to your students through participation in projects such as these?
A. As an art teacher I think it is imperative that I practice what I preach. As I teach art I need to be making it myself. I never liked the idea of someone telling me to do something that they themselves were not doing. Making art helps me find new ways of how to teach and it reminds me of all the emotions that come with art that my students may be experiencing, such as fear, excitement, nervousness, joy, sadness, frustration, etc. I hope to communicate to my students that I am just like them. I create even when it is scary, I fear if people won’t like my work, I do it because it is fun, and it is a reminder that I am alive and I have the capability of creating something with my hands. I also hope to communicate to my students that they can be involved in the art world. I always encourage them to visit me while I work (as I am continually “visiting” them when they work in my classroom) and it allows them to see that art expands beyond the walls of school.