Seven pieces of The People Project, a temporary public art exhibition featuring “people figures” decorated by local artists, students and citizens was unveiled Tuesday across from the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Grand Center. The fun and folksy figures will soon be seen throughout the bi-state region in an effort to generate support for the arts.

Prior to the unveiling, Porter Arneill, director of The People Project, noted that each artist will be able to take a life-size wooden armature and transform it into a unique people figure. “Our figures will not be like the typical bronze statues you find in parks. Artists will be able to move and even remove the fingers, wrists, hands, arms, legs, feet, torsos and heads of the people figures to give each a life of its own. The possibilies are endles.”

Two artists from Illinois decided to relate their figure, “Defined by the River”, to water. “Since we live on the east side, we wanted to do something that incorporated the image of water,” said Kathryn Nahorski, Alton, IL. “The river ends up being a big barrier to people. The river needed to be a unifying element for this project.”

Artist Susan Bostwick, Edwardsville, IL, added that the initial figures were created as a trial run to see how the project would be received by the public and to work out the technicals elements. “Both of us in our individual work use the landscape a lot in imagery. All of the designs have that boney little wooden figure under there. We built it up with paper mache and chicken wire and then they took it and fiberglassed it.” She acknowledged that working in fiberglass was a new process for her, but it worked out great.

“The Piano Man” is the collaborative work of Rich Brooks and Corky Schulz of St. Peters, MO.

One of the unique figures was the “Piano Man”, a dramatic collaboration by St. Peters artists Rich Brooks and Corky Schulz. “The Regional Arts Commission and FOCUS St. Louis are making this project appropriate for artists,” said Rich Brooks. “We are not just covering a figure but actually being creative with the figures. These are going to be wonderful permanent figures that you are going to see for a long time.”

He commented enthusiastically that it was really an exciting process for two artists to be able to do something just a little different.

Mayor Clarence Harmon poses with wooden figures from The People Project.

The People Project is a collaboration by the Regional Arts Commission, FOCUS St. Louis, the Urban League and sponsors who can ‘adopt’ a figure and a Creative Agent. The figures will be on display between April and September 2001 on street corners, in malls, in parks and in front of businesses.

At the end of the public exhibition, the figures will be auctioned, with 50 percent of net proceeds going to support the arts in the region and 50 percent going to a charity of the sponsor’s choice. The Creative Agents will receive a $1,500 honorarium for their work.

Arneill noted that anyone interested in the project was welcome to submit a design proposal for review by the Artistic Committee. Once a design has been selected, it will be included in The People Project portfolio. Sponsors will have an opportunity to review the porfolio and select a design for their ‘adopted’ people figure.

Once the initial transformation is complete, the figure will be coated in a fiberglass shell and returned to the artist for final touches. Each figure will be attached to a concrete base and a plaque will be afixed with the Creative Agent’s name, the sponsor’s name and the title of the People Figure. For more information, call 314-531-5150