Creative Pinellas Announces Artists for Traveling Community Art Project

Creative Pinellas is pleased to announce that SPACEcraft, a creative community-oriented project with the goal of offering accessible, socially-engaged art and art exploration to all, has been chosen as its BP settlement funded traveling public art project. As envisioned by artists Carrie Boucher, Bridget Elmer and Mitzi Gordon, SPACEcraft will travel to locations throughout Pinellas County, offering participants the opportunity to “play, write, create and make” and delivering unmatched access to art for residents and visitors alike.

SPACEcraft was chosen by a jury of arts curators, arts educators and creative business leaders who reviewed proposals and heard presentations from five area artists. Each artist shared their unique visions for work that would foster a sense of community and shared ownership, transform and activate public places and create a legacy of community participation across Pinellas County.

“The jury went through a very engaged and thoughtful process in selecting the artwork they felt would most fully address the goals of this project,” says Barbara St. Clair, executive director for Creative Pinellas. “The one that they chose, SPACEcraft, will touch each community it visits in meaningful ways, engaging everyone who participates in the idea that art is for all, and that all of us are welcome to explore ourselves as artists.”

SPACEcraft consists of a set of two brightly colored, reimagined and redesigned shipping containers that will be used to create a temporary home for interactive activities and shared art experiences. One container will be dedicated to the ideas of “Make/Play,” and will feature arts workshops, maker space programs, and tool and equipment workshops and demos (Make), and film screenings, live performances, music-making and game playing (Play). The second container will focus on “Read/Grow,” and will host poetry readings, a free-exchange library and writing workshops (Read) and will offer yoga, meditation, horticulture classes and other activities around well-being (Grow).

As these containers move throughout the county, the artists programming them will respond to and reflect each host community. They will gather personal feedback from local residents to understand what each neighborhood would like to see and experience in these spaces, and craft specific programs that respond to what they’ve learned. Additionally, they will recruit teachers and facilitators from those neighborhoods to help lead the interactive programs. Confirmed locations for the completed project include Oldsmar, Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, Lealman, Dunedin, St. Petersburg and Largo.

“The SPACEcraft artists created a detailed, practical and beautifully thoughtful presentation,” says Jessica McCormick, the project coordinator. “They brought together their joint passion for art as social practice. That, combined with their dedication to the engaging all of the different communities of Pinellas County, created a very compelling vision for a community based public art project and experience.”

The artists involved in SPACEcraft each bring a depth of experience, knowledge and creativity to this project. Carrie Boucher has been working in art as social practice for years, with her current project, the NOMAD Art Bus, bringing arts programming to those who face access barriers. She works to address inequality through direct action, bringing her traveling art classroom to those who most need the arts, including youths currently residing at the juvenile detention center.

Bridget Elmer is the coordinator of the Letterpress and Book Arts Center at the Ringling College of Art and Design, and she also owns the Print St. Pete Community Letterpress and Southern Letterpress. Her work focuses on providing hands-on education of the old-world crafts of papermaking, bookbinding, and using antique letterpresses to create new and exciting art.

Mitzi Gordon is a community organizer who has worked with community- and arts-related groups such as CARMADA, the SHINE St. Petersburg Mural Festival and the St. Pete Women’s Collective. She also runs the Bluebird Books Bus, a traveling library that promotes book culture through literacy, expression and craft.

Together, they are working to make sure that SPACEcraft can reach as many communities as possible and enable participants to see themselves as creative beings, letting art take root and grow in everyday life through active social engagement.

The project is funded by BP oil spill settlement funds allocated for public art by the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners.