An artist’s vision can sometimes turn the ordinary into something extraordinary.
Or according to the Columbia Arts Council, which recently partnered with two local photographers — Ross Jaynes and Sarah B. Gilliam — on a new public art project, the process can transform something “from boring to beautiful.”
The new project, which was funded by an Arts Build Communities grant awarded by the Tennessee Arts Commission, has allowed the artists to transform several of the city’s highly-visible utility boxes using vinyl wraps.
“I am so happy with this latest example of the arts-friendly city Columbia has become,” Mayor Chaz Molder said in a press release. “As a city, we must continue to do everything we can to promote and advance arts in our community , and this is another step in the right direction.”
The utility boxes include one electrical box on North Garden Street near the intersection of West 7th Street and three signalization boxes located at the intersections of West 7th and North Garden Street, 7th and High Street, and 7th and School Street.
Jaynes, founder of Jaynes Media and Maury County Now, is recognized as a successful and award-winning multimedia producer specializing in marketing, cinematography, videography, photography, graphic design and other visual media.
“This is a really cool project, and I am extremely honored that [Tourism and Marketing Director Kellye Murphy] reached out to have my work featured,” Jaynes, who formerly served on the arts council, said. “I am blown away that something I made is going to be seen in a public place, something people can get a selfie or take photos of . That, to me, is incredible.”
Gilliam is a professional photographer and native of Columbia.
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She is a community advocate, who recently opened Portrait Park, a public art project featuring large-scale photographs of people in her hometown, which has been featured in the Columbia Arts District, Woodland Park and Fairview Park.
“Being included in this project is such a unique way to include art and beauty in our downtown,” Gilliam said. “Projects like this not only elevate our artists, but also provide a great opportunity for beautification and highlighting other areas of our community.”
Jaynes, also a Columbia native, added that projects like these are what will make Columbia stand out from other cities.
“I hope to see more things like this across the city, because it’s the direction Columbia needs to go to continue to differentiate itself from places like Franklin, Spring Hill or anywhere else,” Jaynes said.
Gilliam shares the same sentiments, and hopes more projects like these are created for citizens and other local artists to be involved.
“There are so many ways to incorporate arts in our community, and I hope to see more initiatives like this one,” Gilliam said. “Covering up utility boxes is just the tip of the iceberg of what we can do to create beauty in our community.”