Move With Me

Front St View yellow

Through Salem Public Space Project, I led the first community art project at the Salem Arts Festival in 2014, Hula Art, a canopy of hula-hoops over Artists’ Row. The project was a collection of individual art expressions, aggregated together to create a unified installation greater than the sum of its parts. This value of the personal gathered to create a communal work was continued last year with Front Yard Street Art, led by Kate Babcock – fiber artist, and also this year with Move With Me, a pinwheel installation.

We soaked up our locale to guide this year’s project.

courtesy of google images

courtesy of google images

From 1776 to 1812, residents of Salem traded with numerous countries around the world so that they “were also among the handful of people at the time who had direct personal knowledge of the world’s incredibly diverse peoples, art and cultures.” (Dan Monroe, PEM, quoted in the Smithsonian) Wind powered those 18th century sails that connected Salem to the world. That same wind moves through Salem today, 240 years later, in a world more connected than ever.

Currently, a turbine proposal on Winter Island demonstrates how we continue to harness the power of wind to power our way of life. Thinking back on our rich maritime history, and mindful of our shared world as a dialogue between cultures and natural forces, we developed Move With Me.

Doyle Factory

Doyle Sails Factory and Sailcloth to be recycled…. as Pinwheels!

Move With Me invites participants to connect to our continued legacy of sailing by creating pinwheels from sailcloth donated by Doyle Sailmakers, a local institution since 1982! We use the wasted bits and left over pieces to create pinwheels playfully reminiscent of power-generating turbines. Participants connect to distant cultures by taking time to draw out cultural patterns from across the world, directly onto the sailcloth.

The multiple pinwheels above Front Street, like a movable quilt of cultural patterns, will embody the communal movement and connection of cultures across waters and land from the past to now, moving in confluence when the wind is just right.

George, who works at Doyle, even came by my studio later that day to help troubleshoot and figure out the ideal size of the pinwheels!

George Dietz, who works at Doyle, even came by my studio later that day to help troubleshoot and figure out the ideal size of the pinwheels!

I began the process with an encouraging trip to Doyle Sailmakers. Janet Doyle connected with our concept and graciously accepted to be part of our project. We only wanted unusable sailcloth since temporary art can otherwise be so wasteful of our resources.

Move With Me Public Art project photos by Creative Salem_0154

Leslie and Claudia discuss using a template to cut a square from the sailcloth. (photo Creative Salem)

ccp at phoenix

photos Creative Salem

We then began this process in earnerst, as in other years, with the creative students at the Phonenix School! (Thank you, Leslie Lavesque!) Together we worked out pattern sizes and visibility if pinwheels are installed 15 feet above street level, which way to fold the pinwheel arms, and whether to hang them like “propellers” or “ceiling fans” – all this is certainly still in the works!

Move With Me Public Art project photos by Creative Salem_0189

Photo Creative Salem


We scaled up our efforts when the entire 9th grade class of Salem Academy Charter School joined the effort at Old Town Hall! We discussed how we connect to other cultures by beginning with the familiar maritime trade.

Students choose country and cultural pattern

Students choose country and cultural pattern

In the East India Marine Hall at the Peabody Essex Museum, over 25 countries are represented in the two cabinets of “curiosities” collected over two centuries ago. We used these nations as a jumping off point of choosing different cultures to represent. Interestingly, many of the places represented, due to travel by sail, are island nations, which happen to be the most vulnerable in our changing climate.

PEM East India Marine Hall Cabinets

PEM East India Marine Hall Cabinets with objects from maritime trade places

Salem Maritime Trade Places represented in the PEM Cabinets, and as cultural patterns for Move With Me

Salem Maritime Trade Places represented in the PEM Cabinets, and as cultural patterns for Move With Me

CS_Salem Academy Pinwheel Composite 03

Art and conversation at the workshop and an example of the Phoenix School pinwheels strung up in Old Town Hall. (photos Creative Salem)

Next time we meet, students will bring patterns from countries that hold personal meaning to them. I am excited to represent the whimsical patterns of Romania, my country of birth.


Alexandra Peterson (of Konceptual) and Claudia Paraschiv (Salem Public Space Project and Studioful) aid in the cultural-pattern drawing (photos Creative Salem)


It was wonderful to speak with students about their choices of cultural patterns, the various types of sailcloth, the need for the pinwheels to withstand potential bad weather, and the joy of making art!


Two vastly different interpretations of a traditional Chinese flower pattern

You too can join! contact us: salempublicspaceproject{at} or come participate in the workshop at Artopia PEM/PM, Thursday March 17! 

A how-to manual and more news on our progress coming soon!

A big thank you to John Andrews for the great photos for Creative Salem!

1 thought on “Move With Me

  1. Pingback: Artopia at Peabody Essex Museum 2016 - Sneak Peek -

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