BILLINGS - The City of Billings has selected its first artist-in-residence and you may recognize some of her work around town like the mural on the way to the airport on the campus of MSU-B. It’s designed to bring awareness to an important topic, but it's also brightening up a dark space turning this tunnel into a safe space, and that’s the idea citywide.
"The MSU-B mural is one that I got with Big Sky Economic Development, and we put up one all about the missing and murdered indigenous people and each one of those shards represents somebody who has been lost in that tragedy," said Terri Porta, the city's new artist-in-residence.
"We selected local artist Terri Porta, she’s done a lot of public art around Billings and we were very impressed with her public art," said Elyse Monat, the active transportation planner in the Billings City/County Planning Division.
"I’m super excited for the position," Porta said. "The contract is signed and I am an artist-in-residence. We want to go out to the neighborhood. We want to talk to people from our cultural centers around town and we want to talk to donors."
Porta's position is funded for one year by a $50,000 national endowment for the arts grant awarded to the city in partnership with the Billings Arts Association and the Healthy By Design Coalition plus matching dollars.
"We’re also looking for donors," said Monat. "This is going to be a really high-visibility project I think and it also helps bring national attention to Billings because those national endowment for the arts grants are just so coveted."
Porta’s mural at the City Hall parking garage is also highly visible, featuring the historic flood of 1937.
It took four months of working 8 to 5 to complete and thousands of community conversations, and that’s exactly what the city wants as Porta collaborates on at least two placemaking projects over the next year.
"I realized I had almost 3,000 interactions while I was doing this," Porta said.
"Sidewalk poetry could be an idea," Monat said. "Healthy by Design has done a lot of work and they did some sidewalk poetry on the southside where they stamped sidewalks with poems created by residents."
It's using art to help beautify the community, to help increase safety, to help increase ownership over the community.
"If you hear that I'm coming to your community group or somewhere in your task force, please come out and talk to me," Porta said. "I’d love to see and talk to all of you about this amazing project.
Porta is a graduate of MSU-Billings and completed a one-month artist-in-residence in France last January.
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