Rainy days reveal city’s newest art

September 11, 2018
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Artist Kathleen Korstanje pours water onto a Rainworks stencil mural near Miller Park in the South Side neighborhood last week. The murals, made from a solution that repels water, are only visible when it rains.

HUNTINGTON — Rainy days in Huntington’s South Side neighborhood are set to be a little brighter thanks to the latest art project making a splash this week.

The Mayor’s Council for the Arts has unveiled several sidewalk murals around the neighborhood that become visible when it’s raining, made from Rainworks, a special substance that repels water.

One mural welcomes people to Miller Park with a South Side logo mural. Another mural in front of Southside Elementary School depicts its mascot, a cardinal, holding an umbrella. In front of Huntington Middle School is a mural of its mascot, an eagle, crashing through some storm clouds.

The Southside logo was designed by contest winner Austin Sanders. The mascot murals were designed by Huntington High School graduate Kathleen Korstanje, who is now in her first year as an art major at West Virginia University, said Huntington city council member Jennifer Wheeler.

“Everybody super excited to see the designs, but you only see them in person when it’s actively raining,” she said.

Wheeler said the city began the Rainworks designs last fall, a pilot project between the Marshall University College of Arts and Media as well as the Mayor’s Council for the Arts. They unveiled several designs in downtown Huntington. She continued by adding, she wanted to now bring the project to the city’s neighborhoods and tapped Korstanje to take the lead. Korstanje had expressed an interest in community service, especially in the arts.

Korstanje made the designs, which were then cut from a high-quality plastic at the Robert C. Byrd Institute, create stencils. The stencils were then laid out and sprayed with the Rainworks solution early last week. Korstanje and others were on hand to pour buckets of water over the designs to preview them ahead of the rain, Wheeler said.

“This is a way to instill pride in the neighborhoods and put a smile on someone’s face even when it’s raining outside,” Wheeler said.“There has already been interest in bringing the Rainworks project to other neighborhoods.”

There are several do-it-yourself ways to spray out a mural, including cutting a stencil from cardboard. However, Wheeler said a person must obtain a right-of-way permission if the murals sprayed onto public sidewalks. Permission can be obtained free of charge through the city’s permit department.

Rainworks murals were created by artist Peregrine Church, of Seattle, who developed the solution in 2014 to spread positive messages within the rainy city. The murals have now spread to four continents.

Huntington became interested after someone posted that video to the Mayor’s Council for the Arts Facebook page.

Travis Crum is a reporter for the Herald-Dispatch he may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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