I AM HERE::On The Fence

Proposal: I AM HERE::On The Fence

I have always wondered what it would be like to go back in time and be a young girl again. To see, and hear, and feel the things I experienced back then. I also think it would be interesting to be a young girl again, but experience what I see now, in the present. I have often wondered what it would have been like to grow up on the Southside, off of Main Street. To remember what the neighborhood was like. To have some idea of where this neighborhood came from in contrast to where it is that it's going.

My name is Cat Collier and I have lived in Chattanooga for 34 years - that is my entire life. For eight of those years I have called Southside my home, my neighborhood, my community. I am here because I believe in what Chattanooga has done and what it can do as a community. On a smaller scale, I love Main Street, I love being where I am and being a part of something bigger than myself. To have this opportunity, to share my "I AM HERE" Proposal with my neighborhood is an honor and a privilege. I have dreamed of one day sharing my art work with the neighborhood, seeing it on the side of a building or on a fence.

I have been working on a series of mixed media pieces comprised of trees. I call this body of work, "My Forest" and for three years I have focused on painting or growing "My Forest." The trees are often representational, abstract and imaginative - they are what I see in my my mind's eye. Likewise, I have always been intrigued by graffiti art and my trees are often inspired by the paintings an writings I see on the sides of buildings. The line and color of good graffiti is typically tight and bright. I see more than just writing on the wall. I see open and empty spaces, geometrical shapes and I incorporate those same ideas and elements into my own art work.

I completed "In The Depths-Blistering Trees" in 2009 and it immediately occurred to me that it could seamlessly represent Main Street. The original art work is the basis for a map of Main Street. The horizon line - the line running the length of the piece - represents Main Street. From Main Street there are eight primary cross streets - Riverfront Parkway, Broad Street, Market Street, Central Avenue, S. Holtzclaw Avenue, S. Orchard Knob Avenue, Willow Street, and Dodds Avenue. Branching out from these eight streets is a multitude of unique streets. Throughout these streets, there are a variety of important places - points on the map. Those places are represented by the bubbles that create the trees' foliage. In the bubbles, there are icons or symbols that serve as points off Main Street that are easily recognizable, historically relevant and foundational throughout the community. These bubbles overlap and intersect in the same way that we live, work and play in an eight street radius, along and off Main Street.

As children grow and learn about where they live, their surroundings shape who they become. Main Street has yet to see fully grown trees lining its sidewalks. Until that time, the map of Main Street serves as reminder of where we have been, where we are and where we want to be. It is both a tree lined street and a map. It is a means for understanding how we are all connected, how we grow, how we learn from one another, how what happens on one street, or branch, impacts other branches. Though simple, geometric and simply understood by children who will ask, "Where am I?" the map has a broader, deeper meaning of growth, connection and proximity. The map is a tool representing where are lives intersect. And it gives us all, as individuals, our own place as a part of the Southside.

The "I AM HERE" map of Main Street will be printed by National Print Group, located on S. Holtzclaw. Material used is 12 point vinyl, specifically for outdoor elements. The printed material will be cut, then installed in sections; attached to the fence with plastic cable ties at one foot increments. There will be no space of the fence left uncovered.

*Installation begins on Wednesday April 14, 2010 at 4pm. More pictures to come.

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