The Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance, in partnership with the Town of Oro Valley and Pima Association of Governments (PAG), oversees the Summer Youth Art Project in Oro Valley. Under the direction and mentorship of Teaching Artist Supervisors, local high school and middle school students will design and construct a Public Art installation every three years at a transportation related site.
New public art installed along transportation improvements not only beautifies the region’s landscape, but it also offers an opportunity for youth artists to showcase their skills and gain valuable work ethic through Pima Association of Governments’ Transportation Art by Youth program.
HISTORY OF THE TRANSPORTATION ART BY YOUTH PROGRAM The program allows youth to acquire both artistic production exposure and develop a lasting work experience. Established in 1995, the Transportation Art by Youth program has provided opportunities to more than 100 high school-age students across the country. The students' concepts and techniques are aimed at humanizing the roadway system, enhancing urban gateway features, and helping define the unique identity of their respective communities. Major benefits of the program include both the quick and effective implementation time frame and the high visibility of resulting artwork along significant transportation corridors. There also is a strong sense of community pride in the work efforts undertaken, coupled with a sense of accomplishment for the youth involved since the result of their artistic efforts will be appreciated and endured for many years to come.
Student Intern Artists
Isabel Corona Wadleigh
Eleven teens, under the direction of two teaching artists, are collaborating to create one of the largest integrated public art installations in Oro Valley, AZ. The project is funded by the Pima Association of Governments, which designed the program in 1995, intending to provide youth with an opportunity to gain summer employment while participating in all phases of the design and installation of a public art installation.
The project was envisioned and inspired by feedback from the community. It will encompass educational and desert inspirational imagery, mixing mural techniques, and integrated mosaic art.
Additional program collaborators include the Town of Oro Valley Parks and the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance.
The project has allwed for teens to design and produce artwork in a public transportation setting. The students, guided by selected artist administrators, will have worked for an eight-week period during summer break from school, May – July 2022.
The students were challenged to brainstorm ways they could incorporate themes of discovery, multi-generational diversity, connectedness, and nature. After a community outreach and engagement survey, the students and teaching artists landed on a final design incorporating a gradient art theme inspired by the two most commonly mentioned feedback notes of a project that would include nature and inspired environmental imagery in a whimsical approach.
The installation, entitled "Day to Night," embodies the natural topography found in Oro Valley and is inspired by the animals and colorful skies native to our region. These animals and familiar imagery are found in the bountiful sunlit days and dark starry nights throughout Southern Arizona.
The art installation will feature interactive educational elements, including scannable QR codes with recorded digital content, integrated respite seating for pedestrians, and a signature 53-foot-hand-fired mosaic glass and tile Gila Monster, which mimics the natural animal scales found on this native reptile.
The impressive installation is integrated onto two significant parallel retaining walls that measure over 400 feet long, located at 791 W Tangerine Rd, near the future main entrance of Naranja Park. The project is slated to become one of the largest integrated public art installations in the Town of Oro Valley's recent and growing mural collection.
Two teaching artists were selected to help guide the students during the process. Under the direction and mentorship of artists Angela Hitt (primary teaching and mosaic artist) and Ignacio Garcia (muralist), the 11-selected local high school students will unveil and dedicate the project in July 2022.
Angie Hitt (Primary Teaching Artist) Angela is a certified K-12 Art Specialist and teaches art locally. As a teenager she developed a love for designing and constructing jewelry which led to selling her jewelry line at local art fairs and later in boutiques throughout Arizona, Colorado, and New York. She enjoys making her own lampwork beads and incorporating silversmithing techniques in her jewelry line as well.
In addition to making jewelry she has worked with many talented artists over the years allowing her to add painting, ceramics, photography, and mosaic to her experiences.
“I find that working with multiple mediums continues to provide me with new challenges allowing me to expand my work. After learning a new medium I enjoy sharing what I've learned with others.”
Locally she teaches private art workshops to both youth and adults. “The confidence I see participants develop while working through the challenges of learning a new medium and their pride in creating a unique piece is so rewarding. I love the connections they develop in a class setting as well. My goal is to inspire students to be creative and use those skills to connect to their community.”
Ignacio Garcia (Muralist) www.ignaciotheartist.com Ignacio Garcia is well known throughout the Southwest for his 3D chalk street art commissions, large photo-realistic murals, and modern visual art collections of original works. More recently, his studio art finds inspiration from his street art and Arizona roots. Garcia is an artistic studies graduate of East Valley Institute of Technology in Mesa, Arizona, and the Gnomon Workshop in Hollywood, California. “I find inspiration from Artist Mark Bradford and Gerald Richter and offer my innovative and unique point of view; a fundamental motivation of my work is to challenge to my audience’s and my point of view.”
Ignacio’s craft thrives on the emotional and physical reaction it induces in the viewers. The research, reflection, and exploration of a topic that precedes a finished piece of work are meant to invoke authentic, unpredictable, and organic responses from each of its audience.
The Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance (SAACA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the creation, preservation and advancement of the Arts. SAACA strengthens the bonds between people, place and purpose through collaborative, arts-driven experiences.