“Don’t Fence Me In” started out as a simple, hands-on art making opportunity for young artists to create designs and paint them on donated and recycled wood fence posts.
This simple concept for kids in Summer Art Camps grew into a full-blown community public art project. Along the way, artists, families, schools, sororities, doctors, architects and all kinds of non-profit organizations jumped on board and created a larger scale “sculpture.”
Our goal of 200 painted pickets suddenly became 1,200 as neighbors from all over the community shared visual expressions; resulting in a tapestry of individual pickets that exemplify our collective stories.
Picket fences have typically served as iconic boundaries to demarcate class and social status – or to provide “privacy” from next door neighbors. We witnessed engaging conversations between kids and grandparents, artists and children, and even between coffee drinkers at Frank and Joe’s, as Wichitans came together to co-create this work of art – underneath the western skies in Wichita Falls,Texas!
This project challenged traditional models of public art as a tool for community development. We didn’t try to limit community participation with prescribed definitions of what the “art” should look like or who could participate. We didn’t overthink a planning process with meetings and committees. Instead, we allowed the project to develop organically. It became an unexpected vehicle embodying a broader artistic expression of the public. The “Don’t Fence Me In” project serves as a successful symbol of collaboration and storytelling.
The “Fence” was assembled by a talented cohort of local artists from our 2017 Teaching Artists Learning Lab in the median between Kell East and West near the Attebury building from May 2017-July 2018.