Uptown Greenville, NC


Artist, Parrott Canvas Bring Collaboration “Home”

By Michael Abramowitz
The Daily Reflector

May 16, 2013 - A Taiwanese artist and former East Carolina University professor discovered a strong sense of community during her stay in Greenville, prompting her gift to the city, officials said at a Wednesday ceremony unveiling her artwork.

A three-dimensional textile mural, called “Home” by artist Jan-Ru Wan, was showcased on a wall at the corner of South Evans and Fifth streets prior to a gathering of city officials and shoppers at the opening of the Uptown Umbrella Market at Five Points Plaza.

The work is the result of a partnership between the artist and local textile manufacturer Parrott Canvas Co. It was unveiled by the Public Art Collaborative’s Art-Force program co-directors, Janet Kagan and Jean Greer.

The nonprofit Art-Force organization, based in Chapel Hill, works to stimulate economic development by bringing together artists and designers with entrepreneurs, small businesses, educational institutions and local agencies to boost artistic design and production.

By matching artists with small manufacturers across the state, Art-Force aims to reaffirm a community’s connection to place, Kagan and Greer said.

“Art-Force believes communities can use artists’ imaginations to retool manufacturing and assist communities in an economic transformation,” Kagan told the audience.

“The purpose of the Greenville alliance is just that — to develop new products for Parrott Canvas with the imagination of artist Jan-Ru Wan, bolster the company’s workforce and, ultimately, stimulate the town’s overall vitality,” she said.

Greer said “Home” is the artist’s depiction of the flowing Tar River, spotted with homes, industries and other local features.

“The artist was on the ECU faculty for four years and got to know the city very well,” Greer said. “The idea of her piece is that whatever happens in a city — the clouds change and the people change — you still have a place called home.”

The artwork was created for the city as part of a grant awarded by ArtPlace America to the PAC Art-Force Program.

The project allied Wan with Parrott Canvas to design new products and demonstrate their partnership in a public context.

“All the credit goes to the artist for the whole creation,” company President Mickey Parrot said.

“We also worked with Jan-ru to get an artist’s take on some of the products we make and will eventually be marketing,” he said.

The team’s products — a collection of pieces, including cross-body bags and a set of baskets — will be on display in the windows of the Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge at 404 S. Evans St. and will be available for sale at Parrott Canvas.

In creating the mural, Wan chose to use the same materials — lightweight indoor/outdoor fabrics — that are featured in her designs for the manufacturer.

“Home” will stay for two years at its present location before being transported to another location in the city for display, Greer said.

Contact Michael Abramowitz at mabramowitz@reflector.com or 252-329-9571.