Honors Core 2 explored wall poetry as community beautification
May 2, 2019 | Hannah Gainer | firstname.lastname@example.org
This spring, UWF students laid the groundwork for introducing installations to UWF inspired by those in Leiden, Netherlands.
Leiden is renowned for its wall poetry. There are well more than 100 hand-painted poems sprinkled on exterior walls throughout the city, written in more than 30 languages. According to Netherlands Tourism, “The Wall Poems of Leiden” include works by Shakespeare, Marina Tsvetaeva, E.E. Cummings, Langston Hughes, Pablo Neruda, Dylan Thomas, Derek Walcott and William Butler Yeats.
According to Atlas Obscura, the poems are part of the ‘Poems and Walls’ project. The project was an initiative curated by the Tegen-Beeld Foundation, which set out in 1992 to paint 101 poems on buildings and bridges throughout the city. The project ended in 2005. Since then, citizens and organizations have picked up their paintbrushes and transcribed their own favorites.
Dr. Jocelyn Evans, associate dean of the UWF College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, visited Amsterdam last year. Upon viewing the poetry, she was inspired to create a class project that would investigate the possibility of bringing wall poetry to the UWF community and, eventually, to Downtown Pensacola.
Several U.S. cities have used public art to enliven urban settings, including Nashville, Atlanta and Austin, for example. Pensacola has witnessed amazing urban revitalization over the last decade. The Pensacola mural off of 12th Ave. is one example of a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. The CUBED project downtown on Museum Plaza is another and a step in the direction of public art throughout the city. CUBED: Luminous was a four-day and night outdoor digital art festival that featured a diverse selection of digital and projection art. Evans felt that bringing a purposeful and thematic installation, like the wall poetry project in Leiden, to Pensacola might be a way to visibly celebrate the city’s vibrant arts community.
Evans pitched the idea to her Spring 2019 Honors Core 2 class. She challenged the class to focus on the concept of community through several lenses, including urban design and the pleasurability of public space. She used Dr. Vikas Mehta’s work as a guide for this project, since his work has focused on evaluating the quality of public spaces and the importance of features that make public spaces more inclusive and enjoyable. The honors students researched the Leiden Wall Poetry Project and, as a team, conducted a feasibility analysis to gather information on how they would pilot a similar project on the UWF campus.
Through the project, students explored the notion of text as art, bringing students into contact with artists, graphic designers, museum curators, and campus and city planners. The students interviewed relevant stakeholders, considered necessary resources, identified obstacles and constraints and produced a tangible product, which outlined the project for implementation. Through their process, they considered potential themes, literary genres, diverse voices and potential audiences. The students were encouraged to work with the UWF Office of Equity and Diversity to consider the way in which the content of their selected poetry would be received by others.
The students developed a survey and secured Institutional Review Board approval to administer it to UWF faculty, students and staff and received more than 100 responses. The main goal of the survey was to determine by which of the UWF core values constituents most identified.
“By and large, students were interested in [the UWF values of] inclusiveness and creativity the most, and those are the values we decided to showcase downtown at the CUBED project,” said Jesse Brown, honors student.
The students presented their work on April 18, at the UWF Student Scholar Symposium.
Through this project, Evans hoped that her students took away a real appreciation for urban settings, as her goal was to expose them to the physical backdrop of community life.
“Personally, I learned a lot of leadership skills more than anything. I'd never led so many students before, and it gave me a create sense of appreciation for the work people do in universities and elsewhere,” said Brown.
Evans stated that her overall goal was to see wall murals throughout our community as it has a unique thematic quality to it and celebrates the power of ideas and the importance of the liberal arts to contemporary society. Additionally, seeing wall poetry on campus and downtown would connect UWF to Pensacola in a meaningful way.
Evans further hoped that this project would continue so she and future students could continue to bring more installations on and off campus.
“I plan to harness their enthusiasm to lay the groundwork for the next round of students to make tangible progress towards multiple installations both on campus and downtown.” - Dr. Jocelyn Evans
“I have several students who wish to continue the work through the summer and fall semesters in order to be best prepared to work with the freshman cohort next spring on furthering the project in a strategic and meaningful way,” said Evans. “I plan to harness their enthusiasm to lay the groundwork for the next round of students to make tangible progress towards multiple installations both on campus and downtown.”
The honors students captured the process of moving from idea to plan for implementation of a wall poetry project in our community; on and off campus.
For more information contact College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, 850.474.3227 or email@example.com.