On Friday, April 19, Michelle Glass and I installed our first Arvin community project at the annual Arvin Health Fair. This is the first in a series or works entitled DeColores: A Community Story Project, focused on the city of Arvin and surrounding communities in South Kern County. The Health Fair was held at the Veteran’s Hall courtyard and we installed the pieces in the middle of the yard, so they were surrounded by the activities and festivities. These included booths representing health and community services, food (delicious tacos for $1.00, snow cones, fruit, and lemonade), music, and dancing. At one point, the ‘Zumba’ ladies performed a routine, which both entertained and encouraged others’ to join their exercise group. The event lasted for 3 hours, from 4-7pm.
The triangular canvases were made with sail cloth, cut and stretched over triangular frames fitted with magnets, after they were embellished by community members. Collages represent individual families, histories, memories, and symbols of Arvin. Michelle and I chose the triangular form for its geometric and architectural potential, but also because it symbolizes the mountains that we found to be so distinctive of our first visual impression of the Arvin landscape. Often, on topographical maps, mountains will be symbolized by simple triangles.
In all, we had about 27 canvases that were made by community members. These canvases were the results of several workshops and conversations, and each one that was created was done so with care, enthusiasm, and
heart. In another post, we will showcase each original canvas that was made for this project. Those who met with us over these several months, shared their stories, told us about their families, and were generous enough to give their time to this project. As Arvin and the rest of South Kern County work to build a healthier community, we hope these continued engagements with citizens will support their cooperation to meet the challenges they face.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Zumba ladies, Margarita, Amalia, the rest of the staff and especially the families of the Arvin Family Resource Center for their participation and advocacy for this project.