A New Public Art: Creative Interventionists

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Cherry Street construction site.

These days, the word “intervention” likely brings to mind a group of people coming together in an effort to help a person overcome a self-destructive habit. In Macon, however, thanks to the efforts of the Macon League of Creative Interventionists, the term has a more positive connotation.
Instead of focusing its efforts on eliminating the ills of society, the league “intervenes” by encouraging conversation and fostering community growth in a creative way, with an emphasis on storytelling and public art.
Some of the shared themes thus far have included “neighbor,” in which the league set up neighborhood lemonade stands and welcomed residents to write stories about why they loved where they lived; “health,” in which they hosted a game of community kickball; “music,” for which passers-by were invited to sing and dance in a pop-up karaoke event; “slow,” where participants were encouraged to take their time exploring a local labyrinth; “history,” in which the league posted signs around the city containing little known facts of historical significance; and “strength,” for which Maconites could give words of inspiration to themselves.
One of the league’s most memorable interventions include turning a construction site on Cherry Street into a place where Maconites could write down what made Macon a great place to live. Another was the creation of a traveling “I Love Macon” public art piece from various found objects, mementos, and trinkets brought in by local residents. The league also took action after storefronts on Cotton Avenue were severely damaged during an explosion that occurred during the filming of the upcoming sci-fi thriller The 5th Wave. They transformed the boarded-up windows into murals in an effort to encourage consumer support of those local businesses.
Rachel Hollar, the current leader of the league, says, “I was motivated to lead this group because of how much I enjoyed being a part of the positive change I witnessed as a member. We hope to achieve connections across Macon among strangers from all walks of life. I want the small conversations catalyzed by the interventions to inspire meaningful relationships and allow everyone a chance to express their creativity.”
“Macon Lanterns,” a community gathering hosted by the Macon League of Creative Interventionists, 2015.

Last month, the league sought to accomplish this mission through several community gatherings, such as the Arts Advocacy Breakfast, First Friday at 567, and Mill Hill Block Party, and asking attendees to write haikus about Macon based on the prompt “Macon is….” The league managed to collect around 50 poems including:
“Marvelous music, cherry trees blooming brightly, center of Georgia”
“A place on the rise, transforming everyday, becoming stronger”
“Historic beauty, alive possibility, modern vibrancy”
This month, the league aims to activate vacant storefronts downtown by displaying the haikus in a creative way. They hope to not only liven up the buildings, but also to give passers-by the opportunity to encounter some positive, beautiful thoughts about the city.
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The F Word at Hunter Museum

Anna Mae Kersey is a journalist and academic writer who loves all things arts and culture. She recently graduated from Mercer University with an Honors B.A. in philosophy, and plans to pursue a Master’s of Liberal Arts at St. John’s College in Santa Fe in the fall. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, modeling, music and yoga.

This article was made possible with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of an arts journalism partnership between BURNAWAY and Macon Arts Alliance.

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