Dig Baton Rouge

Love In The He(art) Of The City

By John Hanley

“It’s almost like a life-sized Instagram.”

Although still relatively underground, the artistic culture of Baton Rouge has been persistently growing more prominent as of late, and it’s expanding from right in the middle.

Locals gathered at Letterman’s Blue Print & Supply Co. in Mid-City Baton Rouge last Friday for the beginning of a new art exhibit being created in collaboration with the LSU School of Architecture, The Walls Project, and Southeast Engineers.

Fourth-year architecture students at LSU formulated and developed this project as a part of their studio course requirements. It will cover the entire north wall of Letterman’s in temporary, interactive installments that will both engage the surrounding community and add to the growth of the Walls Project, which has been creating large murals on business buildings around Baton Rouge for around two years.

Friday’s event was hosted to raise awareness for the project, and garner some community interest and feedback, before its official unveiling on White Light Night in November.

Matthew Kenney, one of the architecture students working on the project, says the students have formulated and designed the first exhibit, and plan to put it in motion very soon.

“It’s almost like a life-sized Instagram,” said Kenney of the students’ plans for the first exhibit. “We thought we could take pictures of key landmarks and key places around Mid-City that give it its feeling, that give it its character, and that give it its uniqueness…and we proposed a way to set up stands, like picture stands…that you would be able to recognize if you were just driving around or walking around.”

The students are asking locals of Baton Rouge and inhabitants of Mid-City to take pictures of different locations around Mid-City and use the hashtag #IAMMIDCITY on Instagram to be used in the project, which will feature large boards of pictures along the north wall of Letterman’s.

“I thought this would be a good way to engage the students and the community and kind of push the boundaries of what BR Walls already does,” said Professor William Doran, who is leading the students in this project. This is the first year that students are actually constructing their designs themselves, as opposed to earlier years when designs were handed off to outside companies for potential construction.

After the first exhibit, Doran and his students and collaborators are looking for a way to create a process of community involvement in which members of the Baton Rouge community can contribute new exhibits for the wall in regular intervals.

“We’ve been trying to figure out…a way to sort of condense what Mid-City is and condense the experience of actually being in Mid-City into one place,” said Kenney.

“The idea is that it becomes this permanently rotating thing that’s a part of the community,” Doran added, “that it’s not just a static picture or a piece of art like a sculpture, but that it’s interactive and that it’s changing on a regular basis. So, we’re really contributing something to the community.”

For more information on this project, visit www.midcitystudio.org or follow @midcitystudioBR on Instagram. Information about the Walls Project can be found at www.thewallsproject.org.


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