The light reflects off the freshly-wrapped vinyl, mirroring the completion of months of hard work. The 1995 Volvo 940, now a canvas for artists from around the world, takes to the streets as a modern masterpiece.
Senior Sumner Brock completed “The Streetcar Project” for one of his art classes where he and other artists from around the world covered a streetcar in art. Brock said his original plan was to cover a car in only his personal art, but at first he did not know if he could find a car and create enough art to cover it himself.
“I thought it would be fun to cover a car with art and drive it around like a mobile gallery,” Brock said. “I like the idea that the art is accessible to everyone because it is constantly in a public place. I got the idea for street art while brainstorming with my brother. It seemed like the perfect theme because street art is passionate and public and international.”
Brock said 46 artists from Japan, Colombia, Canada and several other countries contributed to the project. Junior Colten Sikes and senior Megan Scharf also helped promote the project through videos and public relations.
“Through this project I wanted to have fun with my friends and make something we could be proud of,” Brock said. “I really believe in community and creativity and I wanted this project to be focused on those two things. The message I wish to convey is that creativity and community are vital aspects of life.”
One of the contributing artists, Louise from Copenhagen, lost her mom to cancer last year. Brock said her story is one of his favorites.
“Louise’s mom taught her how to do art and since her mom’s passing she has not been able to do art,” Brock said. “This project gave Louise the opportunity to start doing art again and she painted a picture of her mom in remembrance of her. The painting is on the hood of the car along with a message in Danish which translates, ‘As my rock you gave me the courage to explore the world.’ This story perfectly captures the essence of this project: messy humans coming together to create something bold and beautiful.”
Brock said he covered the car by using photos the artists had taken of their artwork and putting them into Photoshop for editing. He then took them to Lettering Express in Oklahoma City, where the artwork was printed onto vinyl and placed on the car. Brock decorated the inside of the vehicle with some of his own artwork.
“I covered the ceiling of the car with words and phrases that were in my head,” Brock said. “They reflect the beauty and mess of life and the car project itself.”
Brock said he is going to take the car on a tour around the western half of the U.S. in June.
“I simply called businesses and explained what I was doing and went from there,” Brock said. “Going up the California coast seemed like a good idea because I have a lot of friends and family on the west coast. I thought people on the west coast would really enjoy seeing the car. The car then will hopefully end up in a car museum or permanent exhibition.”
Q&A with one of the artists, junior Montana Priest.
Q: Please explain your art piece.
A: My piece is on the back of the car on both sides of the license plate. It’s two eyes with rainbow drips underneath one eye and the words “I am okay.” The other eye has the words “Am I okay?” and dark almost black drips underneath. The piece symbolizes my struggle with my sexuality and being okay with who I am.
Q: Why did you decide to contribute to this project?
A: I thought the project sounded so cool when Sumner told me about it. I was really drawn towards the fact that the art was supposed to be meaningful and personal. I’ve been discovering myself and really thinking hard about what matters to me and this project sounded like the perfect way to help with that.
Q: What does it mean to you to be a part of this project?
A: It means so much to me because my piece is so personal and meaningful. It feels so freeing to be able to share a part of my struggles so publicly. I’ve felt so much love and support from people who have seen my piece and from the stories of the other pieces on the car.
Q: Did you learn anything from being a part of this project?
A: Yes, definitely. I learned about people. I heard stories and experiences from friends and strangers. I learned about humanity and how we all can connect through art and pain and questions regardless of where we live or what language we speak. I learned more about myself through the process of coming up with my design. I also learned that people love and accept me for who I am, regardless of who I love or what I believe.