, Newburyport, MA


January 23, 2014

Representing the community

Pentucket Arts Foundation's public art project is a unique collaboration


A brand-new yellow safety vest from the Merrimac Police Department sat in stark juxtaposition on the table to a well-worn pair of tiny pink ballet slippers from Dance Technics in Merrimac and some tattered gloves worn by gardeners at West Newbury’s Knapp’s Greenhouses for 40 years.

Doyle said the most challenging part of the collection process was getting people to understand what kind of items would make a good donation. After sending out an initial letter, Stasiuk, Doyle and Rubino followed up with phone calls — and even personal visits to donors — to explain just what this public art project was all about. But once people understood the concept, enthusiasm for the idea steadily grew.

As the three women finished documenting the large collection of items, Bixby asked them to email the photos to him so he could play with some ideas digitally and start sketching out possible ways to compose his piece.

“This is the kind of piece where you don’t know the outcome prior to doing it,” Bixby said.

While making a piece of quality art out of random, unconnected objects might seem unfathomable to most people, it’s clear that Bixby considers the challenge to be part of the fun.

“There’s a lot of interesting shapes here,” he said. “Once I put it all together and shuffle them a bit, an idea is bound to come up.”

A public unveiling of the collaborative art piece is planned as part of a 10th anniversary party that the foundation is hosting for the community at the high school on May 22. The viewbook will be on hand so people can first see the individual items and then find them within Bixby’s work.

A documentary of the process created by students in Bixby’s videography class will also run during the event, Stasiuk said. Eventually, the artwork will be on permanent display at the high school.

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