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Orlando public art project will focus on food insecurity

Artist Juan William Chavez
Submitted photo
City of Orlando
St. Louis-based artist Juan William Chavez will lead a public art project in Orlando.

St. Louis-based artist Juan William Chavez will lead the collaborative project, teaming up with Orlando nonprofits.

Orlando has won a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies for a temporary public art project focusing on food insecurity.

The two-year project titled "Art Pollination: Building Food Justice through Creativity" won't be about making permanent works of art.

It will "dissolve back into the community" as permanent ideas and better health, Orlando museum and public art director Shannon Fitzgerald said. "Public art can often draw attention and visibility to a challenging issue, maybe that a lot of us don't know that much about or are suprised by. And I think food insecurity surprises a lot of people."

Fitzgerald says St. Louis-based artist Juan William Chavez will lead the collaborative project, teaming up with Orlando nonprofits.

"It will be community based and it will support, with funding and visibility, Orlando artists, but it's led by one who has this very unique expertise," she said.

The project aims to "engage artists and farmers to raise awareness about how to access healthy food and reduce food insecurity," according to a city news release. The food-related nonprofits listed are Black Bee Honey, 4Roots, Hebni Nutrition Consultants, Ideas for Us-Fleet Farming, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Three art organizations — the Downtown Arts District, FusionFest and Snap! Orlando — are also involved.

Fitzgerald said the project aims to engage the community and the works themselves will be experiential and always connected to events.

Bloomberg Philantropies announced eight $1 million Public Art Challenge grants on Thursday. All the art projects address "an urgent civic issue," according to an announcement for the charitable organization,which was founded by former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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