Pedestrians passing through Bethlehem’s South Side have good reason to slow down and enjoy their walk thanks to the creativity of students in the department of art, architecture and design.
Collaborating with 11 merchants on Bethlehem’s Third and Fourth Streets, the students have created sculpture installations in storefront windows that reflect the mission and products of each business.
John Lung ’11, a design arts major, was thrilled to work with Helene Perucci ’03, one of the owners of the high-end women’s clothing store Loose Threads Boutique. After reviewing illustrations and models, Lung and Perucci chose an aesthetic that would best represent the shop to its customers and the foot traffic they hope to entice.
“I wanted to have a ‘feel good’ piece, a display that could bring smiles to passersby on the street,” said Lung. “A flock of birds sitting on a power line, just hanging out having a good time, a reminder of the simple pleasures in life... Life gets a bit hectic at times and I have always found peace in enjoying the simple things. That was all I wanted to display with this work.”
Lung’s design is one of 11 sculpture installations conceived for businesses in South Bethlehem. Other sculptures can be found at Tallarico’s Chocolates, Fox Optical, Home & Planet, Apotheca Salon & Boutique, Chit Chat, Cleo's, Euro Yogurt, the Banana Factory, HomeBase and Revisions.
Forming connections with the community
The course was created and led by Lucy Gans, department chair and professor of art, architecture and design, who wanted to ensure that her students weren’t working in an insular setting.
“While we try to foster an interactive studio culture on campus, this project takes learning out of the studio and into a public site,” says Gans. “It gives our students practical experience in the community and the opportunity to enter into the realm of public art on our south side. Working within the constraints of time and place fosters independence and creative innovation while connecting students with the realities of project management, balancing form and intention and working with a business partner.”
Lung agrees that the project provided an opportunity to interact with local businesses from a different perspective.
“Rather than an owner-customer relationship, we got to work with the business owners, combining our work with theirs. I do feel better connected to the local community after this experience.”
Gaining a knack for visual merchandising
ArtsLehigh, which engages students in the arts, and the South Side Initiative, which helps connect Lehigh with the local community, provided grants to support the project.
“The class provides a real-life situation for students to learn sculpture installation or visual merchandising,” says Brianne Davis ‘11, a product design major who served as project manager for the installations. “You can spend four years in school and work on projects, but something like this gives you that real-life experience.”
The windows were completed in time for Bethlehem’s First Friday celebration on April 1 and will remain in place until April 30 when the South Side’s annual Spring on Fourth celebration takes place.
“The South Side merchants have been very supportive,” says Gans.
“Hopefully we are laying the ground work for future collaboration.”
Top two photos by Douglas Benedict
Bottom photo by David Chrobuck ‘13