Where the Sidewalk Ends

In Do, February 2021, Web Exclusive by Lauren KruchtenLeave a Comment

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A new sidewalk mural in Raleigh lets children in on the creative process.

WEB EXCLUSIVE Wake County kiddos return to in-person learning this week after a year of restlessness and screen fatigue from virtual schooling. Helping to add more interactive art opportunities is local artist and graphic designer Anna Totten, who recently unveiled a new interactive sidewalk mural right outside of Worthdale Community Center.

Part of Raleigh Art’s Make Your Mark series, Totten’s mural, which incorporates weather-proof paint, leaves open spaces for children to color in themselves (picture a life-size coloring book) using chalk from small supply houses positioned at the installation site.

“I was thinking of how to have a creative way for people to interact with art in the community—something other than just visually viewing,” Totten says. “I came up with the interactive mural idea, thinking that was approachable and something kids could do.”

Totten collaborated with the Worthdale neighborhood to create content for the first mural in the series, which features kid-friendly drawings such as flowers, animals and modes of transportation. She says that each mural will have slightly different content depending on the community with which she’s working.

When it rains, Totten’s part of the mural will remain, while the children’s chalk art will wash away, once again creating a blank canvas for returning and new children passersby alike. “It’s a regenerating piece,” explains Totten. “Working with Raleigh Arts has been a fun opportunity to do some more environmental design.”

A graduate of NC State, Totten has completed two other murals on bus shelters in Raleigh as part of Raleigh Art’s #TogetherRaleigh project that launched in November 2020. She then brought the idea for the Make Your Mark series to the org after answering a call for its Neighborhood Art Funds. 

“It has been great to work with Anna on this project,” says Belva Parker, arts program director for the City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. “Her ideas for engaging children with sidewalk art have really changed the way we look at some temporary installations. Her patience has been amazing as we worked on this project during times which challenged how we thought about pretty much everything!”

For this mural series, you get to be the artist too.

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