Environmental Reclamation Artist Angelo Ciotti
Urban Space
Erie Project

Erie Project, Large PhotoMy inspiration for the Mill Creek Watershed Project came from the spirit of the stream. It is inspiring to watch its flow through the forest an parks into the drastic transformation of a concrete tunnel moving under the city of Erie to the bay.

The key to this project was COLLABORATION: the Erie Art Museum; the City of Erie Public Works; Hispanic American Council; refugees from Somalia, Sudan, Bosnia, and South East Asia; Lake Erie Region Conservancy, Mercyhurst College; and the neighborhood community. Our goal was to pay homage to the Mill Creek Watershed by creating pragmatic art as a parklet of granite. This project was also created to give environmental art meaning through public involvement.

Angelo Ciotti, September 2006

The outdoor classroom at the Hispanic American Council is the second major project commissioned by the Erie Art Museum from environmental artist Angelo Ciotti. His previous project--the accessible wetlands observation platform known as the The Feather, at Presque Isle State Park -- was created through a uniquely inclusive process. In this new work, the outdoor classroom, Ciotti again pulled the content of his artwork from the people who comprise its audience. Through public meetings and work sessions, he employed a peculiar ability to engage locals in helping him design the artwork, and these same people assisted in the labor for its construction, and provided most of the materials from which it was built. The result in an oasis on a street corner, a restful and eye-pleasing little park constructed of natural and recycled materials. The Hispanic American Council is a lofical site for this public artwork. An organization which serves refugees and immigrants, it is also an anchor for its neighborhood. It provides a facility for neighborhood meetings and advocates for neighborhood improvements. And the Council embraces art: Art as a communication tool that transcends language. Art as a celebration of the invigorating dichotomy of diversity, demonstrating simultaneously our similarities and our differences. Art which, like Ciotti's, connects people with their environment, both natural and manmade, and makes all of us feel hopeful about our city, our society, our culture.

John Vanco, September 2006

This project has been a labor of love by our students and staff, and it has come to symbolize a new day filled with ope for our neighbors and friends on the lower east side of Erie. "Hope," carved in granite in 11 different language, is meant to remind us of the similarities of our needs and the universality of our dreams. We wish to acknowledge our volunteers, students, staff, and board members, who helped design the space, move the dirt, and plant the flowers. The project came together as one voice resonating with hope for the collective future of our neighborhood. We encourage people to stop, sit and relax, and reflect on their life, and the world of opportunity that awaits those willing to purse their dreams. We want to thank Angelo Ciotti for his vision, commitment, hard work, and dedication to the project. His gentle manner and quiet strength were truly an inspiration during those hot summer days when the sweat of our brows mixed with Angelo's vision to construct a garden of hope for a better life for us all.

John Vanco, September 2006