Bucks Artmobile Hits the Road

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Bucks Artmobile Hits the Road

Francesca Descano, Centurion Staff

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As the Artmobile embarks on a county-wide tour for its “Planting Seeds” exhibit, the Artmobile hopes to bring awareness to global environmental issues and a new vision of art to Bucks County on its voyage.
Fran Orlando, the Bucks Director of Exhibitions and the Artmobile, has worked as a part of the Artmobile for more than 30 years. “It started as a bicentennial project back in 1976,” says Orlando. “Since then, the Artmobile provides a cost-effective and time-efficient alternative to field trips for the rural, urban, and suburban communities we serve.”
“Planting Seeds” is the current exhibit of the Artmobile, and it has been a long time coming. “The exhibit was inspired by a long-term meadow restoration collaboration between Bucks’ STEM department and nearby Tyler State Park,” Orlando says.
Tyler State Park is a Bucks County attraction that students of all ages are familiar with. Orlando explains, “Students know Tyler State Park, so automatically they make a connection to the art, as well as its purpose, and it means something to them.”
In the Artmobile, science is used to compliment the art just as art is used to compliment science, because they are more similar than one would think,” stated Orlando. “We want students to understand that the skills of curiosity, observation and experimentation developed through artistic practice are the same skills required in scientific practice,” continues Orlando.
“If the Artmobile were to be described in one word, it would be accessible,” explains Orlando. The Artmobile is accessible to all schools in the county, and every type of student in those schools.”
She added, “There is a wheelchair ramp to assist students who cannot walk up the stairs, and there is a quiet area in the rear so that students who need a break from the stimulating environment can take a minute in private. Students with learning disabilities, students with physical disabilities, students with financial disabilities, and students with any type of disability are accommodated by the Artmobile.”
“We make art accessible,” said Orlando.
Bucks is an affluent county, but there are many students that are on free or reduced lunches. “Some families cannot afford lunches for their children, so how could they donate large amounts of money to PTOs that pay for field trips?” asks Orlando. “Artmobile is affordable, and we even offer subsidies to schools that may struggle.”
Students at Bucks may remember the days when the Artmobile traveled to their schools as young kids, and, to Orlando, this is the most rewarding aspect of the project. “After more than 30 years at the helm, my greatest joy is hearing Bucks students and other adults recall their childhood experiences in the Artmobile,” she explains. “Imagine touching the hearts and minds of so many in your community!”
An aspect of the Artmobile that makes it memorable to its visitors is that it includes all different types of art. With paintings, drawings, photos, videos, sculptures and more, visitors to “Planting Seeds” will see all of these types of art as well as different varieties of each.
Though videos may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of art, the videos shown in the Artmobile have proven to be quite popular thus far. “Visitors have responded most enthusiastically to the time-lapse videos by Dennis Hlynsky and Julia Oldham’s dance videos,” Orlando says. “They have also responded well to a found-object sculpture of a wasp’s nest by Eric Schultz.”
While focusing on the Bucks community, the Artmobile houses art that is made by both locally and nationally-known artists. Visitors can expect to see museum-quality artworks that are provided by artists who “enthusiastically support the Artmobile’s mission by generously loaning their work for two years,” says Orlando.
“The exhibit features 14 artists and scientists who collaborate or conduct research as part of their studio practice and use their work to increase awareness of pollinators in our environment, the threats to their habitat loss, and the consequences of diminished populations,” explains Orlando.
The “Planting Seeds” tour is expected to be seen by more than 31,000 visitors over its two year county tour. More information on the Artmobile and the “Planting Seeds” exhibit can be found at www.bucks.edu/culture/artmobile/, and it can be seen at schools and public events throughout the county.

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