Hollins University Uses Arts and Letters to Promote Public Transportation

The bus has become a timeless symbol in American arts and letters, so it seems only fitting that a student at Sullivan Foundation partner school Hollins University has turned a bus into an actual work of art.

Hollins University, located in Roanoke, Va., joined RIDE Solutions, the Roanoke Arts Commission and the Greater Roanoke Transit Company in promoting the value of public transportation through the annual Art By Bus and Writer By Bus programs, which showcased the talents of the school’s undergraduate and graduate students.

Jennifer Printz, an associate professor of art at Hollins, led one of her classes in creating a serious of original works, one of which was selected to be installed on an entire half of a Valley Metro bus. “Wishes,” by Horizon Program student Mandi Lamb (who uses the artist handle JM Lamb), was chosen by representatives of Hollins, RIDE Solutions, and the Arts Commission to be displayed this year. It depicts two girls blowing the seeds off dandelions, a treasured childhood pastime for many.

Lucy Marcus, who is pursuing an M.F.A. in creative writing at Hollins, was selected through a competitive process by a panel of arts commission and community members as this year’s Writer By Bus. She will ride various buses throughout April and May to produce literary works about her experiences, the people she meets, and the neighborhoods she visits. Her chronicles can be followed on the Writer By Bus Facebook page. Marcus’ final works will appear on the RIDE Solutions webpage this fall.

Hollins University student Lucy Marcus will ride the Metro Valley bus system and write about her experiences as part of a unique program promoting public transportation in Roanoke, Va.

“These are exciting opportunities for our students not only to be involved in promoting this vital public service, but also to see an example of how the arts can be used to draw attention and change perceptions about important issues in our community,” said Hollins President Pareena Lawrence.

Kevin Price, general manager of the Greater Roanoke Transit Company, added, “We hope to make the role of public transit more visible, and to make the experience of taking the bus more exciting.”

Lamb’s design (along with works from the City of Roanoke’s public arts collection that will be displayed on the exterior of two other Valley Metro buses) was officially unveiled at an event on the Hollins campus in mid-April. “My intention with this project was to create an image that invokes memories and feelings that instill joy, transcending age, race, and cultural differences, as well as socioeconomic class inequalities,” Lamb explained. “In short, something for everyone. Initially, when most of us think of dandelion seed ‘puffs,’ we can mentally scroll back to childhood and the hours spent stalking the yard for an intact ‘puff’ to blow in the wind. So simple and satisfying was this playful task, the thought of it produces a smile on most of our faces.”

Marcus, who was recognized with Lamb at the event, noted, “I feel very lucky to live here, where our city workers and elected officials who do the difficult and vital work of keeping the transit circulating also create such rich programming to integrate and support the arts. I look forward to riding and writing with my eyes and heart open.”

According to the Roanoke Times, the Artist By Bus, Writer By Bus program is in its fifth year.

This story was adapted from an article on the Hollins University website and the Roanoke Times article.

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