Lancaster City has had a beautiful spot of green right in the middle of town, right across from an art school (Pennsylvania College of Art & Design), called the ART GARDEN. Sadly, this precious art garden was sorely lacking any art. And despite its central location on a busy corner, sorely lacking much activity. When PCA&D asked if Modern Art could change that for its new president’s inauguration (cleverly dubbed the president’s installation), we sprung into action to create an Installation Installation.

The theme of incoming president Mike Molla’s installation, the “&”, the ampersand, “a symbol of forging, building and deepening connections, marking PCA&D’s re-introduction to the Lancaster community,” was the inspiration for the installation. We wanted to create a piece of work that would draw folks into the garden, invite them to see the possibility, to notice the good and the bad, to encourage them laugh, dance, think, relax, and ultimately to activate the garden to be a PLACE WHERE THE & HAPPENS.

With less than three weeks to concept, design, gather input and create, we were able to secure a fabricator for a giant reflective ampersand (symbolizing PCA&D & YOU), and make and paint a series of “& Signs” labeling various landmarks in the garden: PCA&D & Neighbors, PCA&D & Things with Wheels, PCA&D & A tree, PCA&D & A Giant Ampersand, PCA&D & El Cielo; PCA&D & a zombie; as well as chalk “& Signs” on which others could add their own “&”.

On the day of the President’s inauguration, Modern Art worked with an amazing group of creative PCA&D students to install the giant ampersand and the signs, and to concept ideas for what other “&s” could happen. (Check out the photos below for some of what they came up with!) The signs continue to change as the weeks go by, as more and more community members create their own ands.

We loved this project, and loved even more the bonding and creativity that happened around it, and we hope will continue to happen. (Perhaps thanks to the willingness of the students to wear a gorilla suit and wigs??)

Many thanks to all who helped make this happen: Adam and Alex from TAIT, Spike from Nimblist, Megan Gallagher from PCA&D, Benchmark Construction , Dan Chambers, Taylor Miles, and to Mike Molla for trusting us as artists.

*And thanks to the student who wrote us this note: “Thank you for the chance to participate in the Art Garden Installation!!! It’s been so cool to see the boards change as the weeks progress. Can’t wait to see how they will change in the future.”