A new piece of sculptural public art was recently installed in Erie at the intersection of East 19th Street and French Street. The sculpture, titled “Seeding Community,” was created by artists Fredy Huaman Mallqui, Steve Mik, and Eric Brozell. Erie Arts & Culture contracted these artists as part of the agency’s 2021 Creating with Community initiative. The goal of this initiative was to empower artists to serve as community leaders through the design and implementation of community-engaged art-centered social projects.
For the 2021 Creating with Community program, six teams of artists worked closely with the City of Erie’s Departments of Planning, Engineering, and Public Works to design and execute projects that address recommendations and issues identified through the Active Erie planning process. Active Erie is a complete streets master plan that calls for the creation of a network of streets that are beautiful, comfortable, and safe community spaces where people want to be; whether they are walking, riding a bike, taking public transit, or driving a vehicle. These issues and recommendations focus on public policy, system user education, and projects that help identify and build out the proposed network. The first phase of the complete streets plan focuses on the 19th Street corridor.
This initiative is funded through the support of Erie Insurance and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Neighborhood Assistance Program.
*Expect more updates about the other five artist teams in the coming weeks!
About Seeding Community:
Art in everyday life is a necessity. Therefore, it is essential to make places where art is a dynamic part of the community, where people can come together to share and make something better. In the beginning, this was a collaborative, community-based project spearheaded by two artists. It evolved into a work of three: a sculptor, a muralist, and an avid cyclist and bicycling advocate. Tasked with undertaking a community art project centered on re-envisioning the 19th Street corridor, the three artists used their unique skills and specialties to contribute to rethinking interactions between nature and the urban environment.
Seeding Community evolved organically, both conceptually and visually, over the past eight months. The artwork was created using locally sourced and recycled materials, which was very important to the development of the work. The sculpture grew from rims and other parts of donated bicycles, made possible through the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network and Bike Erie. We also integrated retired signage and metal posts, contributed by the City of Erie’s Department of Public Works. As the seed germinated, its ambitious size required the collaboration of additional actors, namely welders and engineers from the City who then transplanted the seed into its final home, a hill on the corner of East 19th Street and French Street. This intersection is frequently passed by pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicles. It’s also near a very popular basketball court that is used by youth and adults who live in the neighborhood. The street corner will be further transformed through the planting of native trees in collaboration with ReLeaf.
Undoubtedly, art can be a transformative force for positive change in the community. Seeding Community is a dialogue between sculpture and members of the community, with each person individually interpreting meaning and impact. It is both a visual manifestation of reclaiming a public space, inviting people to engage and interact, as well as a figurative call to action of the work of each of us in contributing to and beautifying our community.
Steve Mik has been part of Erie's Art movement since 2003. He attended Mercyhurst Highschool with a short stint at Mercyhurst College before leaving to become a self-taught artist. He completed 2 years of service with Americorps, where he was able to gain valuable experience, organizing community service projects and working with community members to paint murals and create public art.
Steve's work was accepted into the 2006 Erie Art Museum spring show. He has spent multiple years working with groups in Little Italy and other parts of the city to revitalize and rejuvenate inner-city neighborhoods. In the summer of 2012, he painted a mural on Arnone's Bakery. Since then, Steve has continued working in the arts and painting murals working with groups such as the Looking Glass Project. Steve is currently working on a mural located in downtown Union City that will be installed this summer.
Fredy Huaman Mallqui
Fredy Huamán Mallqui came to the United States in spring 2012 bringing along his wood carving tools that served as extensions of his own hands and his design philosophy. Fredy also brought with him the most precious tools: sensibility, creativity, skills, and expertise that have accumulated with patience and observation of ornamental details surrounding him in daily life often overlooked by others. These traits have served him well as an art conservator, woodcarver, and gilder.
Since relocating to the United States (Erie, PA), Fredy has continued to develop his professional skills. Some of his clients include both locally and from other cities like Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Boston, Michigan, New York City, etc.
In 2020 Fredy is awarded Established Artist Fellowship, from the Erie Arts and Culture, in 2020 Fredy is awarded as Artist of Distinction in the Erie Art Museum 97th Spring Show, curated by Aruna D’ Sousa, a renowned art critic and author. In March 2019, Fredy participated in The World Wood Day Celebration in Graz, Austria. This event is a recognition of the best one hundred woodcarvers and their artistic work and the sustainability of the wood material from around the world.