The Seeds of a National Art Project
When celebrated painter Brendan O’Connell joined forces with The Walmart Museum and others last year, the artwork of over 8,000 students went on display by the Bentonville Square. The artwork celebrated the basic beliefs that Sam Walton instilled in his associates through the Walmart culture – beliefs that are as strong today as ever.
Stop there? Hardly.
A Vision Takes Hold
O’Connell saw the Bentonville schools art project (dubbed “Everyartist”) as a test case for what he envisioned as a national – actually, global – day of art. What happened next was an example of what a small but mighty group of people dedicated to advancing art and community can do.
Working with the same group that had launched the Everyartist project the previous year, O’Connell and team approached Walmart marketing chief Stephen Quinn and the Walmart Foundation for support. They got it, and the “Everyartist Live!” event gained even more momentum. The theme would be “Gratitude,” with schools all working to create the single largest public art project ever.
With the support of Crayola, Alec Baldwin (yes, THAT Alec Baldwin), and the Rubin Foundation, O’Connell and the Everyartist team were on a mission. Walmart got behind it, led by The Walmart Museum’s Jennifer Cozens (for northwest Arkansas) and Walmart World’s John Soldani (for associate participation).
230,000 Students Focus on “Gratitude”
By the time of the event – which took place over a 10-day period last November – 230,000 students from grades 1 through 6 were signed up to create their own artistic interpretations of “Gratitude” – what it means to them, how they would share the idea artistically with others. They were kids from Houston, Atlanta, Nantucket, Chicago, and everywhere in between. All told, students from across 46 states participated, including 42,000 in Walmart’s home region of northwest Arkansas.
For more information on “Everyartist Live!” go to www.everyartist.me.