Public art comes in many forms and you can help create it

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Chantelle Rytter leads a lantern parade in Atlanta. Steve Eberhardt Photography

First, thank you to all the wonderful islanders who came out to the Island Rec in February to paint our first community mural. The day was so much fun for "artists" of all ages.

If you haven't seen it yet, please stop by the new Island Rec Center, 70 Wilborn Road, and check out this beautiful public art installation on the walls of the Community Room.

We are thrilled to announce a number of exciting (and free) art-making and education activities going on this month centered on public art. We are working in partnership with Island Rec to bring art, history and the local ecology together in one giant community art-making project.

Led by Hilton Head Island's own Stella-lee Anderson, this public art installation is being created to engage the entire community in an art project dedicated to endangered and extinct plant and animal life from the coastal waters of South Carolina. This project will involve a number of classes focused on the art of batik and indigo dyeing.

Batik is a technique that uses hot wax and dye to create a design. Participants will draw the design before sealing it with hot wax, making it resistant to the dyeing process.

Indigo has deep roots (pun intended) here in the Lowcountry and was for a time the second largest cash crop in South Carolina, after rice. The final result will be a large-scale, fiber art wall hanging that will be displayed in the new Rec Center.

The schedule of free events for March is:

• Adult Indigo Presentation and Tye-Dye Workshop with artist Peggy Pickett, 10:30 a.m. March 11 at Island Rec.

• Adult Batik Workshop with artist Hank Herring, 2 p.m. March 18 at Island Rec.

Both of these events are free, but we ask that you register in advance at CultureHHI.org. Oh, and big thanks to the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry for supporting this public art initiative.

Also, in case you haven't heard, the Office of Cultural Affairs will be producing the island's first lantern parade in November. What's a lantern parade? It is a community driven, temporary public art event centered on telling the story of our community through light.

Chantelle Rytter is a community parade artist best known for founding the Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade with the Krewe of the Grateful Gluttons. She believes that lantern parades are precious forms of public art that involves public participation. "Inviting everyone to make a lantern and walk in the parade is inviting everyone to make a piece of public art and take it out dancing," she said.

We'll have more to come about the lantern parade in the fall, but for the time being, join us on noon March 8 at the USCB Hilton Head Island campus, for Rytter's talk, "Lantern Parades as New Genre Public Art." Space is limited to the first 50 to register so be sure to sign up at CultureHHI.org and save the date for Hilton Head Island's first annual lantern parade on Nov. 9.

Jennifer McEwen is the director of the Town of Hilton Head Island's Office of Cultural Affairs. CultureHHI.org

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