Bringing art to life with the help of technology

The Harrison Junior High EAST Lab students are at it again, but their newest project promises to be a feast for the eyes for years to come.

EAST facilitator Mary Beth Hatch said the project is called “Natural State Natural Art” and will integrate technology and art for a community project.

Much akin to The Unexpected art project in Fort Smith, artists turn the sides of buildings and blank walls into murals that dazzle the senses.

But the EAST Lab portion is a little more high tech.

Hatch contacted Convention and Visitors Bureau director Matt Bell and asked him to reach out to businesses in the downtown area to see if they would be interested in having a mural or some type of art on an outer wall.

Bell said officials at Watts and Webb Floor Covering, Deb’s Frames and Things, Ugo’s Eatery and Backstreet Trader agreed, as did ones at Kirkland’s for a wall behind the business on East Stephenson.

Hatch said students worked with the Center for Advanced Spatial Technology (CAST) at the University of Arkansas and laser scanned those buildings’ exact dimensions.

That data will then be imported into a computer as 3-D models artists can use to project their art onto the walls and structures to see exactly how it would look prior to doing the actual work.

Hatch said she has been in contact with three artists who worked on The Unexpected project to see if they can do work in Harrison.

Puerto Rican-born Ana María did two works in Fort Smith and Hatch said she has agreed to work in Harrison. Her work mixes mediums and she is best known for animal, mechanical and human forms.

Australian artist Guido van Helten, who created massive monochromatic portraits in a photorealistic style for The Unexpected, has been contacted. Hatch said he is working in this country at present, but they still have details to work out to secure his talents in Harrison.

Hatch also hopes to bring in Bordalo II, an artist from Portugal who was born in Lisbon, Greece. He repurposes items in a form of recycling to create giant animals and relates those creations to sustainability, ecological and social awareness.

Hatch said she has written some large grants to fund the first three projects.

“These pieces of art will either be humans or animals that are native to our state and our community,” she said.

Both Hatch and Bell hope that the finished project will inspire other businesses to be a part of the Natural State Natural Art project.

Hatch said the goal is to give people visiting or passing through town a chance to take an art tour or art walk, then spend more time in town eating at restaurants and shopping in businesses.

But she also wants to incorporate the talents of local visual and even tattoo artists as the project continues.

“We have so many kids with these skills and they never get to share it,” except in art fairs, Hatch said.

Once complete, the students and artists who contribute to the project will be able to take their own children to see the works they created.

“This is something that’s going to stand for decades,” Hatch said.

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