Students fill meters with artistic change
BLACKSBURG — For most people, parking meters and positive thoughts generally don’t go hand in hand.
A group of Harding Avenue Elementary School students worked to change that last week by giving a few of those coin-eating monsters a face-lift.
On Aug. 30, 15 fifth-grade students from Rebecca Gove’s art class spent close to three hours decorating four parking meters along College Avenue as part of “Park Your Art,” a joint effort of the town of Blacksburg and the Blacksburg Partnership Collaborative for the Arts.
Twelve meters will be decorated but remain functional until they are removed in November as part of the ongoing construction of the downtown street. Each painted meter will then be auctioned off, with the proceeds benefiting the restoration of the Alexander Black House and Cultural Center in Blacksburg.
Blacksburg Partnership President Diane Akers said local artists were encouraged to submit concepts for the parking meters, which then had to be approved by the group prior to being painted. She said they had originally planned for only nine meters to be painted but had such a great response they decided to raise that number to 12.
Gove said she first learned of the project from a parent and immediately had each of her fifth-grade students work on a parking meter design the first week of school. Gove chose four designs to submit to the partnership, and each of the four was approved to be painted.
Following the school’s early release Aug. 29, Gove and her 15 volunteer artists began to transform the generic-looking meters into colorful works of art and left their mark on the downtown area.
“Lots of people are going to see this,” student artist Haley Freeborn said as she painted.
Freeborn and three classmates worked to transform their meter into a cherry tree with a snake crawling up it.
Classmate Erin Sudweeks, who designed the meter, said she added the snake because the person beside her had drawn a dragon, and she just really likes snakes.
A little farther down the street, another group worked to transform its meter into the face of a clown with an Afro, a design created by student artist Seth Boehringer.
“I thought, ‘What does this [the meter] look like? A cyclops.’ Then I added another eye, and now it’s a human,” Boehringer said of his design.
Though the artists were excited for people to see their meters, many also said it was important to them for people to know who they were representing.
“It’s [the project] what Harding Avenue stands for. We’re a part of this town,” Freeborn said.
Her classmate Nathan Gallagher agreed and added he hoped a positive reaction might even impact the future of his school.
“Maybe they’ll see it and be like ‘Oh Harding Avenue. Maybe we can send our kids there.’ And that will be like more taxes going to it [the school] and maybe that can save it [the school],” Gallagher said.
The school board had talked of closing Harding Avenue Elementary, along with Shawsville Elementary School, during this year’s budget deliberations but decided to make other cuts instead.
Gove said she was more concerned about the impact the meters have on the artists.
Gove said she felt it was important for her students to have a connection with art outside of the classroom and that this project had provided an opportunity to experience that firsthand.
“I hope it’s an experience they take with them into middle and high school. A great memory of, ‘Hey that was really fun art we did,’ ” Gove said.
Though the meters will likely be on display less than three months, artist Gavin Snyder seemed sure their work would have a lasting impression.
“We’re a part of downtown history now,” Snyder said.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643
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