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- Selected Works: | You Belong Here! | Its Merits Recommend It | Fellows and Others |

For more images and information on You Belong Here! see the Artists & Communities site: http://www.artistsandcommunities.org
Then click on KY to see Gude's Kentucky project. Be patient; the site is worth the wait!

You Belong Here!
the Covington, Kentucky Millennium Mosaic
by Olivia Gude, 2000

The Covington Millennium Mosaic project is a mosaic-covered cast-concrete seating installation. I worked in collaboration with community volunteers and three assistants to design and execute the 25 mosaic panels for the artwork. The project was sponsored by the Covington Community Center and by Artists & Communities: America Creates for the Millennium, a MidAtlantic Arts Foundation program that sponsored 56 community-based arts residencies, one in each state and the territory in 2000.
One of six completed mosaic and concrete forms, awaiting installation.
  At an early Core Design Meeting, a participant described spring as the time when the neighbors can reconnect by coming outside again and talking over the front fence. This led to a discussion of common shared space as a basic prerequisite to creating community and to our description of the goals of the project, "We are making the front porch of Covington, a place for community conversation. We chose words that will stimulate thought and encourage speculation."

The aesthetics of the project are an unlikely fusion of minimalist sculpture, folk art landscape, and Dadaist collage. In early discussions with community residents, an important theme that emerged was people’s interest in the varied architecture of their community. I decided to involve residents in creating images of favorite buildings in ceramic bas-relief. Seventy-five middle school students and over 50 adults created 136 homes and public buildings that held emotional significance for the makers.

Among the most successful aspects of the project was the intense interest and involvement of many people. Several long-time community activists described themselves as being restored by participation in this community artmaking process. The mosaic workshop created a feeling of community and exchange among people of diverse backgrounds. It was a true intergenerational project with participants from 13 to 83.

I had a revealing insight while working on this project. One often hears cultural critics decrying the fact that most Americans spend their free time as consumers of mindless popular culture and not as participants in shaping American life. The intense and pleasurable involvement of so many people on the Covington project made me aware that all it takes to change culture is to make culture. We can take real, positive steps to redesigning America from a culture of consumers to a culture of makers by creating opportunities for people to come together in a way that they find stimulating, intriguing, and pleasurable.
Model showing the layout of the You Belong Here! seating installation.