The goal of most public art projects is to create an open space where the general public can enjoy and be inspired by art.  It is an inclusive and enriching experience for both the artists and communities involved.

For the past few months, Nebraska City’s public art project, An Enchanted Arboretum, has done something extraordinary within this realm.  In addition to commissioning 21 life-sized stylized trees for regional artists to design, An Enchanted Arboretum has touched more than 1,000 local school children.

Every student in Nebraska City, including those from the Public Schools, Lourdes Central Catholic, and the Nebraska Center for the Education of Children who are Blind or Visually Impaired, has worked on their own special part of An Enchanted Arboretum.  Throughout the 2012-2013 school year, artist and Project Coordinator Liz Shea-McCoy of Lincoln has visited with Nebraska City students, encouraging and instructing them as they create their own one-foot tree maquette.  Students have learned about line, form, and color, and, in some cases, have modeled their designs on the work of a famous artist.  They have also received help from their classroom teachers who completed a three day workshop under Shea-McCoy in August of 2012. 

Chloe Higgins is a 7th grader at Nebraska City Middle School.  When asked about the project, she replied, “I think the Enchanted Arboretum project is really cool.  It’s a chance for kids to create something that will actually make a difference.  I liked how we focused on one specific artist and that artists inspired our designs, so everybody will have a wide variety.  Working with Liz Shea-McCoy was really fun and it was interesting to hear a real artist’s input.  All the kids in my class really got into it, even some of the kids who don’t usually enjoy this type of thing.  This project was really fun and I’m glad I got the chance to participate!”

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An Enchanted Arboretum is a collaboration between the Nebraska City schools; Arts Are Basic, a partner program of Doane College; the Arbor Day Foundation; the City of Nebraska City, Icon Poly Studio, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts; Nebraska City Tourism and Commerce; and the Nebraska City Area Economic Development Corporation.  This project is also supported by numerous local funders.
 


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