The 2021 Harrisburg Mural Festival kicked off over the weekend, with local artists beginning work on large planters in the Allison Hill neighborhood.
In all, 20 Harrisburg-area artists will paint the planters through June 20, when the planter component will wrap up.
“Connecting with local artists has been extremely rewarding,” said Meg Caruso, co-founder and president of festival organizer Sprocket Mural Works. “There is an amazing amount of talent here. Not only do the artists have the opportunity to express themselves, but they’re doing it in a very public way through art that will uplift the community for years to come.”
The planter art project is being conducted in partnership with Tri County Community Action. In addition, staff and volunteers of the Giant Co. filled more than a dozen planters with soil and flowering plants along Derry and Market streets.
“Beautification projects like this are key to community development,” said Danielle Krebs, communications manager for Tri County Community Action. “It provides an opportunity for community members and organizations to get involved and work together while instilling community pride for the residents.”
Planter artists range in age and ability, from students to longtime Harrisburg residents like Althea Lynn King, 42, who designed a planter depicting “mom squad”-themed artwork.
“Being a mom of young Black boys, with everything going on in the world, you have fear, but you also know when moms come together, they love and protect kids,” said King, of her artwork. “Even though it’s a small project—for me, it’s huge. My love for Allison Hill started because I attended church here for many years, and Allison Hill was always my favorite neighborhood in Harrisburg.”
Sharnee “Artzbeat” Burnett, 23, a recent graduate of Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, said her planter murals focus on race relations.
“I wanted my work to speak on how we are all the same, even though our skin colors are different, and we all have different features,” Burnett said. “At the end of the day, we are all here trying to live our lives. I love to help make the community more colorful and happy.”
The 2021 Harrisburg Mural Festival is Sprocket’s third biennial summer festival. The majority of Sprocket’s 45 murals were created during the 2017 and 2019 festivals by local, regional, national and international artists. This year, rather than a concentrated 10-day mural festival as in the past, Sprocket is organizing continuous, summer-long mural projects popping up throughout the city.
Other components of the 2021 Harrisburg Mural Festival include:
Pocket Park: Harrisburg’s Patrick Alley is set to be transformed into a pocket park. Dozens of volunteers, along with the community group Friends of Midtown, recently cleaned the unused alleyway of litter and weeds and planted a garden featuring native, pollinating plants donated by Manada Conservancy. Next, murals featuring honeybees, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, will be added, beginning in July.
Recycle Bicycle: A fundraising campaign just concluded, in conjunction with May’s National Bike Month activities, to help fund a mural at Recycle Bicycle Harrisburg’s new Allison Hill location. Harrisburg-based artist Ralphie Seguinot, who painted the mural at the nonprofit’s previous location, will re-imagine that original design into a new mural beginning in July
Celebrating Black Lives: A steering committee of community members is meeting to begin planning a “Celebrating Black Lives” mural.
For more information on Sprocket Mural Works, visit their website. Potential volunteers, sponsors and others should contact Sprocket at email@example.com.
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