Community ArtPrize Project Needs Your Old Pink Arrow Shirts

After 13 years of Pink Arrow events, your dresser may be overflowing with game day t-shirts. If you no longer wear or need them all, a local teacher is hoping you’ll donate them for use in a special project that will be put on display during the 2021 ArtPrize competition.

Sarah Ellis, an art and Spanish teacher at Lowell High School, is heading up the project with the help of fellow art teacher Emma Bandos. Ethan Gough, son of principal Steve Gough, is also lending his skills as a videographer to document the project’s creation.

“I’ve done ArtPrize before, and it was just a really cool experience,” Ellis explains.

This year, she wanted to do something that would be a collaborative project. At first, she envisioned creating a mural with the high school’s diversity council but shifted gears to look for ideas that would incorporate more people. By April, she and Bandos settled on the concept of creating a rug using Pink Arrow shirts. Once done, it will represent Dreams Intertwined.

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Dreaming Big and Wiping the Slate Clean

After a difficult year, Ellis and Bandos wanted to give people an opportunity to reflect on their experiences and dream about what they want from their future. “We’re going to wipe the slate clean,” Ellis says.

Since Pink Arrow is such a defining event in the community – and one centered on hope and healing – it only made sense to incorporate it into the ArtPrize entry. “This project aspires to set the tone for a year of healing and learning,” Ellis says.

For Dreams Intertwined, she and Bandos are collecting old Pink Arrow shirts. Those will be cut into strips, and students in Lowell Area Schools will have the opportunity to write their goals and dreams on the strips. Those strips will then be woven together using the Amish knot method and then the circular rugs will be connected to make a larger tapestry.

“Through in person activities, community members and students will be asked to share the hopes and dreams they have for their community and themselves,” Ellis described the project in a grant application. “Through the act of weaving, we will see how all our hopes and dreams are connected and celebrate our similarities and differences.”

How to Donate Your Pink Arrow Shirts

To make the 15×15-foot rug, Ellis and Bandos anticipate they will need approximately 1,000 Pink Arrow shirts from the community. They hope to have the shirts collected by August 15, and drop-off bins are available at the following locations:

Lowell Arts
223 W Main Street
TUES thru FRI 10am-6pm
SAT 12-5pm

Or any Thursday this summer at the Lowell Arts Concert Series held on the Riverwalk at 7pm

Bernard’s Ace Hardware
1601 W. Main
MON thru FRI 8am-8pm
SAT 8am-6pm
SUN 10am-4pm

11535 Fulton Street East
MON thru THURS 10am-4pm

Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce
113 Riverwalk Plz
TUES thru FRI 10am-4pm

Sharpies and scissors are also needed for the project, and those can be dropped off in the bins as well.

How to Help Make the Dreams Intertwined Rug

Once the shirts are collected, there will be several opportunities for the public to help with the creation of the rug.

During the Pink Arrow Community Day on August 12, volunteers are needed to help cut shirts into strips and sort them. Strips will then be placed into packets that will be distributed to teachers on the first day of school so students can each decorate a strip.

“I would love to be able to have other businesses help as well,” Ellis says. While the details haven’t been worked out yet, she’d like to have a way in which local companies could have employees write goals and decorate strips to be included in the rug.

Then, on August 26, during Pink Arrow Day, Ellis is hoping volunteers will be on-hand to help weave the tapestry together.

For more information about how to participate, follow the Dreams Intertwined Facebook page.

Where to View Dreams Intertwined During ArtPrize

ArtPrize 2021 launches on September 16, and Dreams Intertwined will be on display at the First (Park) Congregational Church at 10 East Park Place in downtown Grand Rapids. The documentary created by Gough will be shown alongside the finished tapestry.

Entries in ArtPrize can be auctioned off, and Ellis says that is the plan for the finished Dreams Intertwined project. “Our hope is that is will be auctioned off and maybe a business in the community wants to showcase it,” she says.

Any money raised from the project will go to the Lowell Education Fund and to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at Lowell Area Schools.

To follow the rug’s creation and see the final project, be sure to like the Dreams Intertwined Facebook page.

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