May 28, 2019
The next time you’re walking through Uptown Greenwood, take a glance above.
You might check out Chirp, a northern cardinal, perched in a tree. Or espy Skyy, a blue jay with nowhere else to go beyond his scenic home near the Arts Center.
The clay-fired birds are among a collection of nine spread out along the Main Street corridor – a first-of-its-kind urban art project that brings together the creative skills of gifted and talented students at Pinecrest and Woodfields elementary schools, Greenwood District 50, the Uptown Greenwood Development district and local potters.
With tourism officials on the hunt for new ways to engage with patrons, the installation — called “Tweet on Main Street” is seen as a centerpiece of Uptown’s next wave of growth.
“The project is a wonderful example of a collaborative effort to not only bring public art Uptown, but it also provides another tool for us to encourage visitors and the local community to visit,” said Uptown Manager Lara Hudson.
Wayfinding maps, available at the Arts Center, will lead people on a scavenger hunt to find the nine birds — all of which are indigenous to the region. Along the way, they’ll stop in front of local shops and assets as the splash pad.
Bernetha Culbreath, coordinator of the Gifted and Talented program, came up with the concept in 2017 and more than 40 students have been involved since that time.
“We need to show our young people doing positive things in the community,” Culbreath said. For students involved in the venture, it’s become more than just a long-term assignment: They’ve developed a passion for public service, have grown to understand the workings of local government and even found interest in ornithology, the scientific study of birds.
“Tweet on Main Street” was officially rolled out last week during a reception at the Arts Center.
“We started out just brainstorming reasons it would be good to bring this to Greenwood, and I developed a lesson plan over the summer on project-based learning when I introduced this idea to them,” Culbreath said. “I had ideas in my head, but I shared none of that with them. I just let them go.”
Linley Wilkie, a fifth-grader who’s been involved with the project since its inception, said she and her friends took ownership of it from the beginning.
“I think it’s going to be very exciting, because not only do they get to spend time with their kids, but their kids are learning more about Uptown and where things are, and you kind of learn map skills too,” she said.
Mirabelle Anderson said students expanded the concept of a single bird placed multiple times over the area to presenting facts about birds native to Greenwood County.
“Inside the brochure, it will show you the picture of the bird that they drew and then the real bird and then information,” Mirabelle said.
Culbreath, who affectionately calls her class “bird nerds,” said students have taken what they’ve learned and brought it home — always on the lookout for an avian creature in their own backyards.
Culbreath’s daughter, Kristen, is a graphic artist. She converted sketches of the birds into detailed drawings that were used to render the clay-fired pieces.
Mitchell Miller said “Tweet on Main Street” is special, because it showcases the vibrant minds of youth.
“When kids become adults, their imagination kinds of fades away and becomes more bland,” he said.
Contact staff writer Adam Benson at 864-943-5650 or on Twitter @ABensonIJ.