BILLINGS — The Town of Billings is looking for one or two creative individuals to fill a new Artist-in-Residence position.
The residency program, Mobilize the MAGIC City, aims to engage art and artists in everyday civic life.
Artists will work closely with the community to plan and create art installments over a 12-month period.
While artists have collaborated with the city and local businesses in the past, this is a whole new role focused on community engagement.
MTN News spoke with two women leading the project on Tuesday.
Elyse Monat works with the city as the active transportation manager. Eden Sowards works with Healthy by Design, one of the partners in this project, as a Community Health Improvement Lead.
“It’s the first time we’ve had something like this, but we know it’s a hit across the country. Different places have used the artist-in-residence in order to improve health, safety, economic development, public engagement and things like that,” says Monat.
Although this is the first time this program has been offered by the city, Billings has a long history of working with artists to produce art installations across the city.
Local artist Terri Porta has several installations throughout the city, such as murals at MSU Billings and a structural piano on 27th Street.
Porta has just completed its most recent project, a downtown COVID-19 mural honoring the lives lost in Yellowstone County.
“This opportunity came up because I’m working with people from COVID, and they saw this opportunity and were like, ‘Yeah, let’s do a mural,’ and it turned out great,” Porta said Tuesday. .
The mural also has a hand-painted QR code nearby that links to information about the mural.
Porta was joined in her project with the Yellowstone Art Museum Teen Group, the Downtown Billings Alliance and the AmeriCorps Vistas.
With the majority of the mural finished, Porta is reaching out to the community to submit letters to be featured in the mural.
“There are letters from people who have lost people to COVID and it’s like a memorial to them,” Porta says. “I’m looking for more community support in the ratings, I have room on the board for at least another 20.”
To send a letter to a lost loved one for the mural, Porta says you can visit her website.
Porta explains that being an artist in Billings allows her to work closely with other artists and lean on them for help.
“It’s exciting for me personally to know so many artists in town and to be connected to them, and to know that I can just say, ‘You have to help me,’ and they’re like, ‘Yeah, what can I do? make us “” Porta explains. “None of my murals are actually one person doing everything, it’s always a team of people. In general, I also call on other artists to help me.”
Collaborating artists, exactly what the City of Billings is looking for.
“Getting that engagement and feedback from residents through this process really creates a sense of pride in a neighborhood and in a community,” says Sowards of Healthy by Design. “This project can really improve the pedestrian aspect, and people can connect with each other, and go visit a really cool place to socialize and feel part of something.”
The artist-in-residence would be required to create two projects, called Creative Place Centers, along a planned bike path through downtown. Additionally, the artist should document their work as a roadmap for future artists. The compensation is an allowance of $25,000 for the year.
An online webinar was held on Tuesday to give artists a chance to learn more, and will also be uploaded to the city’s website.
Applications for the position are open until November 28 at 5 p.m. and can be found on the city’s website or by clicking here.
The program is made possible thanks to the National Endowment of the Arts Our Town to agree. Partners include the Billings Arts Association, City of Billings, Healthy by Design and the National Endowment for the Arts.
“The art that is produced is really important, but the process is also very important,” explains Elyse Monat. “So you really want to inspire residents to see what they want to see in their community and help give them a sense of belonging. “