MIDLOTHIAN, Va. -- Bright, colorful cards hanging from yarn in Rob and Lindsay Steele’s Midlothian front yard asks a simple question with a billion answers: what made you smile today?
Rob, Lindsay, and three of their daughters produced the yard-art to bring their neighbors joy during coronavirus stay-at-home orders, but thanks to a new project called “ARTsolation,” anyone with internet connection can check it out.
“The stuff we used, we just had around the house, which is kind of cool,” Lindsay said. “It is all about bringing warmth and love to the community when people are stressed, isolated and alone.”
Rob works for the local design firm Riggs-Ward. The firm recently launched an online platform for families in Central Virginia to show their creations to others.
“We had been talking over conference calls how a lot of us have seen different art installations in people’s yards, and thought it would be kind of cool idea to create a virtual exhibit where we could document these things and put them on a website for people to enjoy from their own homes,” Rob said.
The process of submitting artwork is pretty simple. On the website, artists submit a photo of the work, a brief description, and a general location. The firm posts specific locations of installations or more general areas, depending on the artists privacy concerns and comfort level.
Creativity is individualistic, and the Steeles said some of the entries submitted so far prove it.
“Some of the people have repurposed their Santas, the big blow up ones. It said, “wash your hands!” they chuckled.
Lindsay is an art teacher at Glen Allen high school. She encouraged her students to take part in the project because she said creativity can be a tool in these unique times.
“I think it’s really important. It relaxes you, it takes your mind off everything going on in the world,” she said. “It’s really not about what it looks like in the end. I think it’s just the fun of making something.”
Riggs-Ward plans to keep the “ARTsolation” site up and running throughout the stay-at-home order and beyond.
“Since it’s in web form now, it’s kind of a time capsule, where this stuff we’ll always be able to appreciate. I don’t know, I hope people are more inspired to continue being creative and trying to bring more light and love and happiness into the world,” Rob said.
Riggs-Ward said over the next couple weeks, they will pick out some of their favorite entries, and winners will receive $250 gift cards to local restaurants still operating during the pandemic.
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