Art Is All Around Us + Using Art to Guide Understanding and Unity

Hey, y’all! Guess what time it is? Yep. It is time to grab a good cup of coffee (or tea) and sit a spell with me as we chat about the theme for my fall art classes and how my recent road trip inspired me to change the direction of my lesson plans and projects.

All set up for Open House at the McKinney Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

About a week ago, the little family and I went on a road trip–not the original vacation the hubby had planned–but one we all threw together at the last minute because we were determined to not let anything stop us from venturing out and having fun. See, the last time we went on vacation was 2005-to Disney. That year was the absolute worst. From Hurricane Katrina to my beloved father-in-law passing away, that year was ugly. Nothing like we had planned or expected. Now, we are not going to dwell on the past. We are going to embrace the present and work toward making the future better and brighter. Which brings me to our thrown-together road trip.

**Family selfie fail in Buffalo, New York** My arms were not long enough, and we do not own a selfie stick. Perhaps, I should ask Santa Baby for one.

Originally, we were going to go on a lighthouse tour–focusing on the areas from Baltimore to the Outer Banks. Ferry boat rides. Lighthouses. Beaches. But there was a power outage of sorts that spoiled the majority of our trip, so we decided instead of rerouting that planned trip–we would abandon it all together. It is just the way we are *wink* So, the hubby and I sat down and tossed around some ideas. Here is how we planned our new vacation:  (1) Our daughter will be graduating Spring 2018 from college, and she is interested in applying for jobs in several different cities.  One of those cities is Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. All I knew about this city is it is the capital of Pennsylvania. So, I texted Abby and asked her if she would be interested in going to Harrisburg for a couple of days. Explore the city. See where nice apartments are located. Where the news stations are. Visit a few tourist attractions. She said that would be awesome. First stop, check. (2) Where does one go from Harrisburg? Niagara Falls, of course! (3) Why not take a scenic drive from Buffalo to Erie, PA? (4) We are so close to Cleveland–let’s go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! (4) We agree to stop in Maryland on the way to Harrisburg–because why not. (5) We agree to stop at anything else that looks cool or interesting and to stop at the rest areas entering each state. We had no specific plans–but we knew we wanted to spend time together as a family–exploring America the Beautiful.

The first couple of days of our road trip we stayed in downtown Harrisburg. It is a gorgeous city with the most adorable public art. Now, I am not going to spoil all the rubber duck art pieces because I want y’all to plan a trip to this capital city and see for yourself.

The rubber ducks inspired me to change the total direction of my fall art classes. I realized while walking around downtown Harrisburg art is all around us, and I wanted to bring large-scale public art into my classes.

Painted fire hydrant in downtown Harrisburg. Love this so much!!

Downtown Harrisburg is filled with so much delightful art. Take a day or two and explore all of the art the city has to offer. **I am in no way affiliated with the City of Harrisburg or its Department of Tourism. I just love its artsy and welcoming vibe.**

My favorite painted “flower pot” in Harrisburg **I am seeing an art lesson!**

What a great way to brighten up any city or town!

A little starry night action happening on this container in Harrisburg, PA.

One last photo of the painted planters. Y’all will have to take a road trip to see the rest *wink*

Mural in Harrisburg. **At this point in our visit, my mind was racing with ideas for my fall art classes.**

Check out the reflection of the mural in the puddle! Wouldn’t it be awesome to have local artists paint public parking lots!

After a couple of days exploring Harrisburg, the little family and I headed to Niagara Falls via a scenic route where we saw quaint farms, wind farms, and homes decorated with patriotic bunting and American flags. It was a good-for-the-soul drive. Let’s fast forward to the day we spent in Buffalo, New York because I want to continue chatting about public art and how it inspired me to look at art and my art lessons differently.

Photos cannot capture the size nor the details of this public art piece in Buffalo. **If you have not explored Buffalo’s art and architecture, add Buffalo to your bucket list right now!**

Abby standing next to the Nancy Rubins sculpture in Buffalo.

Bright and whimsical art piece in Buffalo

This sculpture in Buffalo inspired an art lesson! My students will be “building” their own mini outdoor art using reclaimed blocks and paint.

Art that makes you happy and reminds you to embrace your inner child!

The solid color really makes the modern lines of this piece pop against the Greek-inspired building in the background. **I can identify with this because I feel like I am constantly out-of-place and standing out!!**

Love the primary colors and block shape. It just makes me smile.

As far as the eye can see. Absolutely amazing sculpture!!

This sculpture is gorgeous. Whimsical. Scary. Entrancing.

I must go back to Buffalo when I have more time because the art is…I have no words!

I was like a kid at a candy store in Buffalo. Just so much amazing art!

“Rusty” treasures have a special place in my art!

Last sculpture I will show y’all because I could go on for days chatting about all of the art in Buffalo…well, there will be a few more photos of murals after this *wink*

This summer road trip will always be special because it is the last one before my baby–my only baby–graduates from college and starts a new adventure. *deep breath–trying not to cry*

Mural in Buffalo on the corner of Perry and Mississippi. Yes, we went to Mississippi Street because we are originally from Mississippi. And look what we found when we got there!

Closer look. Take time and explore the details of this mural in Buffalo.

One last public art piece to show y’all! Honestly, it was a struggle narrowing down which pieces I wanted to put in this blog post. I decided to show my favorites and the ones that inspired my art lesson plans. Don’t y’all wish you lived close by so you could take my classes *wink*

Pour another cup of coffee and enjoy this mural. Take a look at the colors and the overall design. Let me know what you think in the comment section!

Don’t you just love public art! It livens up our cities and towns, adds color and beauty, and shows off the talent this wonderful country has. It is easy to get down these days about America and to complain about what is happening around us.

It is easy to march and riot and burn flags and carry torches and throw around hateful words. It is easy to cower and to be afraid. If you are like me, you may not know how to express how you feel in words or out loud or to express your views publicly–for a million reasons from fear of being hurt|bullied to not knowing how to handle differing opinions (when those opinions and views are coming from people who are much ‘better’ at verbally and physically expressing themselves).

Now, I may not be one to carry a sign in the streets and to go on Facebook rants, but I do believe I can use my creations and art lessons to help this country overcome its current state of animosity and hate + to help remind people how great America is (despite some bad apples and ugly parts of history). Why? Because art is the path to understanding and unity. Now, don’t go getting your panties in a bunch thinking that I am leaving morals and Jesus out of the solution. I am just saying that art is a way to express struggles, successes, fears, and so much more. Art is a way to bring people together–to discuss issues. Art is also a way to showcase what is good in this country.

Art is all around us–waiting to be spotted and discussed. Share your thoughts about “Art is all around us” and your ideas on how we can use art to bring unity.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren{All of us} to dwell together in unity!

Psalm 133:1

art inspires us to visit the concept of ‘unity’ and see ourselves as part of a bigger universe.

leni kae

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