A paved trail runs through a suburban town near Boston. It is popular both for commuting to work and for recreational uses, such as bicycling, walking, and jogging; it’s used by thousands of people every day.
Some artists in town realized that the asphalt pavement on the trail could be a good location for art, for it was highly visible, eye-catching, and unusual. So they started a Bikeway Haiku contest – an open competition in which residents were encouraged to submit haiku (a Japanese style of poetry, with 17 syllables). The winning entries would be painted directly on the pavement.
Over 460 entries were received. Of these, 111 haiku were selected for installation. Two samples:
Are you still seeking?
This is the asphalt speaking.
Keep up the good work!
Hope for bicycling
Humbly gets us around town
While saving our world.
Volunteers painted the poems, using stencils, at individually-designated locations on the miles-long trail. Eventually rain and weather eroded the paint, which was expected at the beginning, since this was not meant to be a permanent installation.
The bikeway haiku were a source of pleasure to those cycling or walking by. Part of artistic creativity is deciding where the art can have the most impact; in this case, the planners chose their location well.
More generally, art can be a powerful community-building tool. It can elevate the spirit, and create connections between people through their shared experience. The Bikeway Haiku project also illustrates that art can be part of everyday life, available to everyone, and should not simply be reserved for galleries or museums.
Story shared by Bill Berkowitz, United States of America.