Dowagiac to feature student artwork on wayfinding signs

Published 11:06 am Thursday, February 4, 2016

(Submitted photo)

(Submitted photo)

Topped with a depiction of one of the city’s collection of sculptures and statues, the wayfinding signs installed around the city limits last year have always showcased the fine arts beloved by many in Dowagiac.

These structures will continue that trend starting next month, thanks to the contributions of the city’s youngest set of artists.

Beginning in March, the city will install artwork made by Dowagiac elementary, middle and high school students on the back of the 12 wayfinding signs located within the city. These pieces will temporarily replace the flyers for local events and festivals that normally occupy the back of the signs up until promotion begins for May’s Dogwood Fine Arts Festival, said city official Bobbie Jo Hartline.

“We have a lot of festivals, but we also have some down time as well, and we would love to highlight the talents of our local students during those periods,” Hartline said.

The student artwork featured on the signs will be chosen based on a contest run by the city and the school district. This week, a panel of nine judges, comprised of local parents, business owners, city officials, teachers and artists, will go through the 93 entries submitted by students, selecting 12 winners to go up on the signs.

These entries will be enlarged, produced in vinyl and installed on the signs next month, Hartline said.

Hartline has worked with Dowagiac Union Schools art instructor Dean Hill to gather entries for the contest, with students across all 12-grade levels sending in artwork. With the only requirement being that the submitted artwork be placed on a vertically oriented canvas (similar to the flyers normally installed on the signs), the students created entries with a variety of styles and subjects, from abstract ink-blob like paintings to cartoon characters, Hartline said.

“I was tickled that the students were drawing on techniques they just added to their repertoire, but were also drawing on their interests to bring their own character to it,” she said.

The final installed artwork will feature the name of the students who created the piece, allowing residents and visitors to the Grand Old City to see which young mavens are responsible for sprucing up the local visuals.

“Our students are unique and they are a big part of the community,” Hartline said. “They’re not just somebody’s kids — they love this town too, and we want to highlight that.”