Public Art Project Highlights Community Picnic

NEBRASKA CITY – The T.A.R.T. Committee of the Community Prosperity Initiative prepared for Sunday’s first community picnic with about 500 hotdogs and 50 pounds of taco meat and shredded pork, as well as plenty of appreciation.

The idea behind the picnic is that Nebraska City has earned a reputation for hospitality for its visitors and the Tourism, Arts, Recreation and Trails group wanted to put on a free cookout to say thank you to the residents.

Holly McAdams Olson, director of the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, called Sunday’s picnic a success both in terms of the number of people coming out, but for the feeling of community unity.

Jessica Witte, who was a resident and former interim director of the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center For the Arts, led a public art project called Groundswell.

She said Nebraska City is near and dear to her heart because it’s like “art camp” to her.

Witte:”It’s been really great. I’ve had a couple of people thanking me for bringing it here. There’s been some families that stayed. A woman said she had a 14-year-old entertained for an hour and she wants to have schools do this as an activity, for like the end of school to keep the kids busy and  just have them work together on something.

The project started with two separate loads of wood mulch that Witte spread into a wave shape.

Witte: “I usually work with natural materials. I put them directly on the ground and people shift and alter it. It’s about people engaging and actually making the work change by how many people you can get involved.

So a lot of it for me is the interest in how many people we can get involved  and how they can make their own idea happen in the artwork. We have a drone shooting footage to be able to capture as it changes over time. We’re trying to get as many people as possible to add to it.”

For me it’s been really interesting. I had a couple,  Jill and Tim came who are visually impaired, so I helped them add to the drawing as well. I love how inclusive it is.”

The project started with crews dumping two colors of wood mulch and Witte spreading it into a wave.

A drone photographed the changed as residents re-shaped it and added seeds for their own designs.

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