A SUNY Oneonta student is sharing her artwork to help Oneonta build community spirit and more.
Lynn Golan, 21, is contributing prints through “It’s In Our Hands: An Art Initiative for the Community,” an independent project at the State University College at Oneonta supported by a on-campus grants program.
“I created this project to bring art into the community and create a conversation about building solidarity through our similarities while respecting and honoring our differences,” Golan said in an artist’s statement. “Oneonta is home to all sorts of people, yet its mountains welcome each person equally with open and warm encouragement, and this is what we can all strive for. It is here that we grow, learn, love and connect with others.”
Framed copies of her print have been appearing in downtown Oneonta businesses and community organizations. On Tuesday night, at the Common Council meeting, Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller displayed the print that will hang at City Hall.
“The image is a tree,” Golan said during an interview outside Common Council Chambers. “You see the roots and the branches and you see the people around it.” The local foothills are in the background, she said, and below is an embossed illustration of hands.
“It is here that we must support positive thinking and action to encourage one another to be good citizens, neighbors and friends,” she said in her statement that accompanies the print. “My artwork represents the ever-uplifting sense of community, respect, love and solidarity that we can find when we connect to one another and to the land we share. What do you think builds a strong community and what can you do to help strengthen our community?”
Carol Mandigo, a local artist, applauded Golan’s project and its focus on encouraging dialogue about the community, its assets, lifestyle and future.
“Her idea is so timely,” said Mandigo, a community educator with the Leatherstocking Education on Alcoholism/Addictions Foundation and chairwoman of the First Night Oneonta board that planned New Year’s Eve activities.
Oneonta’s businesses have been working on economic development and furthering Oneonta as a place to visit and to live, Mandigo said. Like many small cities, Oneonta is up against the commercial developments by malls, she said.
“We’ve got to find our identity as a community,” Mandigo said.
Golan’s project encourages viewers and residents to consider and share their definitions of “community” and other views.
“She’s really asking people to contribute ideas,” Mandigo said. “She’s put a lot of work into it.”
The prints are accompanied by stickers with an illustration of hands and the words “Oneonta, NY Together We Create Our World.” And Golan has created a Facebook page for discussion. Gestures such as a `simple smile to a stranger or picking up litter” can improve community if everyone participates, she said in her statement.
The project was funded through the Student Research and Creative Activity grant program at SUNY Oneonta, Golan said. The $1,500 award was spent on supplies, she said, and her faculty adviser was Rhea Nowak of the art department.
Golan, an art and philosophy major, said after graduating in May she plans to work as a an intern at the United Nations. Her family, originally from Israel, lives in Plainview, Long Island, she said.
Her prints are on display at Huntington Memorial Library, Artware, Main View Gallery and The Green Earth, among other locations, and she is distributing 30 prints in total.
Golan said she hopes the art and seeing it in multiple locations throughout the community will prompt viewers to talk about Oneonta, the community, the beautiful environment and more.
“That’s the beauty of art — everybody can interpret it,” Golan said. “It’s just a passion of mine — connecting people through art.”