The following article was previously published on The Flat Hat’s website during the week of Oct. 9. However, due to an unforeseen technological glitch, it was removed from the website for a period of time and was re-uploaded today, Nov. 6.
Saturday, Sept. 30, the Muscarelle Museum of Art hosted Community Art Day at the Williamsburg Community Building and the Stryker Center in celebration of the Muscarelle’s 40th birthday. Community members and students enjoyed a chalk art competition, live music from student bands and organizations, lawn games, student art vendors and a communally created quilt. Inside the Stryker Center, visitors explored an exhibit featuring detailed information on the past, present and future of the museum and its collection.
The ongoing expansion and renovation of the Muscarelle building has produced challenges with maintaining relevance and connectivity. With galleries closed and precious art in storage, the museum has shifted its resources to community engagement projects like the Community Art Day. Events and Marketing Manager of the Muscarelle Museum Julie Tucker elaborated on the challenges of keeping the museum relevant during ongoing construction.
“Our museum is closed, which has been an interesting challenge for us. How do we keep people engaged?” Tucker said. “How do we keep moving forward with our mission of engaging people with the arts when we don’t actually have a museum to welcome them into?”
Despite the hindrance, Tucker and others at the Muscarelle have found purpose in greater community collaboration and outreach.
“I say it’s been good for us because it has forced us to collaborate,” Tucker said. “We’re reaching out to different offices around campus, different arts organizations in town, so it’s opening up all kinds of interesting collaborations.”
Community engagement and visibility were centered as the primary priorities of Community Art Day, which monumentally serves as the first time that the museum has facilitated a large-scale event since before the COVID-19 pandemic. These goals were especially important to Tucker as a mother of two daughters who wanted to figure out the best way to effectively include local families.
“I know in the past Muscarelle has done all kinds of family events, [but] this is the first one that we’ve held since the pandemic,” said Tucker. “So we really wanted to have a day where we’re welcoming our entire community. So families are a big focus, but also the campus community is another big focus. We’ve been trying to craft the day in a way that will draw out students, faculty and staff and really give them an opportunity to have fun and connect and have some arts experiences.”
Tucker also acknowledged that event planning and preparation was a team effort between the Muscarelle staff, interns and volunteers, and she specifically recognized the efforts of Events and Marketing intern Hannah Saad ’24.
“She really conceived how the day would run,” Tucker said in reference to Saad. “She found the student musical acts. She reached out to the student art vendors. And so she was really integral to pulling this together. And then it’s just been a team effort.”
Saad further shared her experiences putting together the event from behind the scenes, sharing her excitement at seeing her hard work finally pay off.
“It’s very exciting that it’s finally happening because I feel like I’ve been helping coordinate logistics and ideate things,” Saad said. “And to see it all come to fruition is very exciting.”
Another major piece of the Museum’s current outreach program is the communal quilt, which is the brainchild of Director of Engagement and Distinguished Artist in Residence at the Muscarelle Steve Prince. While the original plan for the quilt was to lay it down the mile-long length between the Sir Christopher Wren Building and the Colonial Capitol building in Williamsburg, it is currently composed of six to seven patches that span 150 feet in length and ten feet in width. Each square patch tells the story of each individual person who has contributed through any of the many workshops Prince has led for the project.
“[Prince] does so much out in the community, and the communal quilt has been a huge project,” Tucker said. “I want to say he’s been doing it for about two years. If you’ve ever met Steve, he is a man of great ambition.”
Talia Snyder Romero ’25, a student who has worked on the quilt with Prince, says she profoundly appreciates what Prince has done to foster solidarity throughout the campus and beyond.
“I really love Steve Prince,” Romero said. “I think his mission of including William and Mary, and integrating art projects into the community is really cool, so the community quilt is something I have contributed a patch to. I’ve done one of his workshops, and he leads them really amazingly, and his whole mission is, I think, pretty inspiring because I overall think that there is a bit of an issue in the divide between the student body and the community.”
Kimberly Hill ’24, the owner of the small embroidery business Sunrise Hill LLC, similarly expressed her admiration for the quilt project, especially as one of the student vendors represented at Community Art Day. To create a more inclusive community that helps to bridge the divide that Romero alluded to, Hill suggests that the College hosts more pop-up opportunities for student art vendors so that they can better engage with others in the Williamsburg locale.
“I actually think it’d be super cool if the school could put on a relatively large vendor style pop up market for students to kind of dip their toes into the realm of entrepreneurship and also express [their] creative liberties,” Hill said. “It’s a really good way for the community to see us not just as students, but as a larger whole.”
Bailey Anderson ’26, another student art vendor who specializes in jewelry, further praised the collegial aspect of Community Art Day that she especially enjoyed.
“It’s very collaborative,” Anderson said. “We’re getting to meet new people that are also selling and trying to get their businesses out there.”
Hill shared similar sentiments to Anderson about the opportunity to meet new people in the local community.
“I love seeing other William and Mary students, especially other vendors, and I really enjoy talking to community members,” Hill said.
The positive effects that student vendors experienced from being a part of Community Art Day seem to successfully match the organizers’ original goals of including more students in their vision for the celebratory event.
“We thought [having student artists] would be a really great way to get more students involved than just the people that work here and give them the opportunity to have a platform for the greater community space and then also entice more members of the William and Mary community to come out and see what we’re doing,” Saad said.
Inside the Williamsburg Community Building, the fun continued. Visitors of all ages took part in coloring page activities based on the various works from the Muscarelle collection, and attendees were also encouraged to embellish tote bags featuring a Steve Prince design using fabric markers that were provided by the event organizers.
“It’s hard to say no to a free tote bag,” Tucker said, and it is clear the Williamsburg community agreed.