Public art installation says welcome to Brunswick

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BRUNSWICK — The inspiration for a new art installation on the south wall of the Hannaford supermarket was born out of a project for Professor Mark Wethli’s public art class at Bowdoin College.

When Wethli’s class began in the spring of 2011, its first assignment was to explore Brunswick and identify places that would be ideal for a public art installation. Several students identified the wall of the store as an ideal location.

Students put together their proposals, and models of potential installations were put on display at Curtis Memorial Library so the public could share opinions. Of the 19 designs submitted, Waterville native Tariq Haq’s design, “Cornucopia,” was chosen.

“A double major in government and digital arts, Tariq’s unique feeling for the public sphere and for public life in general blended perfectly with his exceptional skills, aptitude and vision as a designer to enable him to excel as a public artist,” Wethli said Wednesday at the work’s unveiling.

Haq said he found his inspiration in Brunswick’s farmers market history and the melting pot the town has become in recent years.

“In the few years time in which I myself have been a resident, Brunswick’s bountiful community has been ever expanding, and shows no sign of slowing down,” he said. “Indeed, this community has united both the young and the old, blue and white collar, and has created a space that meets the needs of so many in this diverse community.

“Cornucopia is intended to express these values and to underscore Brunswick’s commitment to sustainability, the arts and to fostering a community where all walks of life are welcome,” he continued.

Hannaford store manager Mia Baker said that not only will customers and associates benefit from the installation, but so will the thousands of people who live, work and visit Brunswick.

Wethli agreed, noting that travelers arriving on the Amtrak Downeaster will be able to look at the banners, which face the Maine Street Station depot, and know where they are and feel the sense of community in town.

“Those of you who are familiar with train travel are familiar with those signs that repeat the name of the town as the train comes into the station, so that anytime you happen to look out the window, you can see where you are,” he said. “Picking up on this idea, Tariq’s design repeats the name Brunswick along the bottom edge of each banner; an added touch that tells us that these banners do not simply decorate a wall, but create a greater sense of place.”

Town Councilor Benet Pols echoed Wethli and Baker, saying the artwork creates a sense of community in what has become the town center. He also thanked Haq for his work, and said he hopes Haq remembers Brunswick when the Museum of Modern Art and the New Yorker are featuring his work.

“I had hoped to make some grand pronouncements about the meaning of public art or the meaning of art in general, but really when you’re getting a gift, what you should say is thank you,” Pols said.

“Those of us who can’t draw, who can’t sing, tend to look at the crowd of people who can draw and can sing and can paint as if they have some kind of unnatural gift, like straight teeth or nice, naturally curly hair when in fact, they probably put a fair amount of work into what they do and that’s something we want to acknowledge,” Pols continued. “Perhaps Tariq’s life’s work begins here on the side of this store.”

Amber Cronin can be reached at acronin@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter: @croninamber.

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Waterville native Tariq Haq was inspired by Brunswick’s farmers market history and sense of community in the creation of his installation, “Cornucopia.” It faces the Maine Street Station Amtrak platform on the south wall of the Hannaford supermarket in downtown Brunswick.

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