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Traveling art project lands in St. Pete

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One of the SPACEcraft containers now in St. Pete. Photo: Todd Bates.

Two brightly colored shipping containers have been rotating around Pinellas County since the summer of 2020, bringing craft sessions and art demonstrations to different communities. Now, they’ve landed in St. Pete.

The metal containers are part of a traveling art project called SPACEcraft, an acronym for Social Practice Activating Creative Environments. The project serves as a mobile art space for children and adults, and aims to inspire creativity among the public.

During September and October the containers will be in St. Pete’s Bear Creek Park and Walter Fuller Park.

According to creator Mitzi Gordon, calling the SPACEcraft “a traveling public art experience” is the best way to describe it for those who have not seen it for themselves. “It’s a creative environment where the public can explore,” she said.

The two shipping containers serve as “symbols and indicators of consumption,” and materials within them use four concepts to guide visitors’ creativity: Make, Play, Read and Grow. 

The SPACEcraft equips visitors with the tools and instruction to create art in relation to these guiding concepts. For example, someone interested in the “Read” category can use large magnetic letters to write a poem on the container’s metal walls. 

Carrie Boucher, one of the three project conceptualizers, says a consistent theme that guides their project is the belief that every person is innately creative, and that creativity should be nurtured. While there are no typical nights at the SPACEcraft, Boucher said “we invite people to come and explore their creativity, and that’s the consistency between the different evenings.”

Boucher also explained the unique source of the project’s funding: the BP/Deepwater Horizon  oil spill.

Pinellas County filed a lawsuit against BP and other defendants in 2013 for local damages caused by the massive oil spill that took place three years prior. In 2015, the county approved a settlement of over $9 million. The Board of County Commissioners then set aside $500,000 of the settlement funds for an “innovative, traveling public art project,” which would eventually result in the SPACEcraft.

The project has already landed in multiple cities across Pinellas County, and will continue to travel until summer of 2022. The two containers will remain in their current locations until Oct. 2, and are open to the public Wednesday through Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m.

Both Gordon and Boucher say communities have enjoyed the SPACEcraft so far, and that their team would like to extend the project past its two-year run, if funding allows.

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