Art project funded along the Schuylkill
River Water Trail; opportunity for artists
Artful Ways: enhancing trails and greenways with art and artists
Art is one of the best ways to strengthen the connection between people and trails.
By Charles Tracy, National Park Service
Art is one of the best ways to strengthen the connection between people and trails. Across America and elsewhere, artists are employing a remarkably wide range of creative strategies to support all phases of trail activities, from design and development to stewardship and interpretation. In particular, art can be an effective tool for telling a trail's story compellingly and memorably.
In 2004, American Trails will be launching Artful Ways, a new partnership with the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Program, the USDA Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management. Artful Ways will encourage creative ways of enhancing trail interpretation and trail-related facilities on National Recreation Trails using temporary and permanent site-based art. The first step is a first-ever nationwide survey of art on trails.
"I'm really excited with this new partnership," said Cherri Espersen, NRT Coordinator for the National Park Service, "Our first goal is literally to discover the state-of-the-art on trails. NPS has been involved with several cool trail projects using art, including dance, poetry, sculpture and video projection, but we know there's much more." The results of the survey will be featured on the American Trails website and used in developing course material for the national trails training partnership.
American Trails supports linking trails and the arts and recognizes achievement through its National Trails Awards. The Trails and the Arts award recognizes outstanding public art projects, interpretive signs, or other creative structures associated with trail related improvements.
Past winners of the award have been the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway Land Bridge and the Ventura Public Art Program of Ventura, California. The Ventura program commissioned seven prominent regional artists to create eight public art works that enhance the trail experience, and highlight local history and the unique identity of Ventura. Nominations for the 2004 award are being accepted; see page five for more information.
"I expect that Artful Ways will lead us in many directions, including a more meaningful experience of trails and the landscapes they travel" said Stuart Macdonald, publisher of the National Recreation Trails website for American Trails.
For more information on Artful Ways, and other art projects on trails, visit www.AmericanTrails.org and click on "Art & Trails" from the Topics menu.
See examples of art on trails
and greenways from Artful Ways Survey responses.
March 1, 2005
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Updated March 16, 2007