Client: North Topeka Rotary for the NOTO Arts Center
Location: Topeka, KS, United States
Completion date: 2014
Quincy Elementary Students
Rotary North Topeka
Rotary North Topeka
NOTO Arts Center
“Confluence,” is a collaborative artwork honoring the leadership of Heartland Visioning, the founding co-chairs of the NOTO Arts District and the countless volunteers, organizations, business and individuals who have gathered together to bring about positive change to a previously unsafe and deserted section of the city.
The evolution of the NOTO Arts District has inspired creative action from individuals across the city. My goal in integrating this commissioned artwork into the new NOTO Arts Center was to design a permanent installation that celebrates who we are and reminds people of the grassroots effort of a community taking ownership of its past, present and future.
Because of the arts district's early leadership, individuals and groups across the city are learning to utilize the power of social capital to rewrite the city's story. Placing the installation in the physical center of the building is a reminder that visionary and creative innovation comes from the heart, and in this case, is the product of a community's desire for change.
Artist Carol Bradbury conceived of the project after listening to a major donor's desire to honor the art district’s visionary co-chairs. Thinking a simple portrait didn’t convey the whole story, Bradbury set about designing a multi-media installation that reflects a more inclusive community voice.
Bradbury designed the foundation of the mural using ‘marks’ that 2nd graders made during a Bloomerang Artist's residency at a neighborhood school. She gathered “I AM” statements from students and integrated them into the mural. The I AM's suggest the effect the neighborhood’s signature arts school is having on its at-risk student population.
Bradbury commissioned the portrait painting from local artist Barbara Waterman-Peters that shows the co-founders taking their place on the streets of the emerging arts district. The relationship between the 8’x8’ wall mural, the I AM statements and the portrait speaks to the confluence of creative energies working together for a better future.
"Because the mural had to work in tandem with the portrait painting as a single artwork, the artist was challenged to use the children's marks as a medium of translation. Another artwork that came out of the same Artist's Residency (exterior signage for Quincy Elementary School) has a very different feel because the objectives were different. "I worked through many designs before the final “Confluence” was realized, always searching for the right balance between elements," remarks Bradbury.