FestiFools! Ann Arbor’s Street Art Parade

Carrie Rheingans

Carrie Rheingans

There are many things I like about living in Ann Arbor, from restaurants to outdoor space. One great thing about this city is its support of public art. There are murals and mosaics all over downtown, and there are many public art events throughout the year. In 2007, one of my friends (who was a School of Social Work student at the time) was involved in the creation of FestiFools.  FestiFools also partners with both the undergraduate living-learning community the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program (LHSP) and  the School of Art and Design.

Two SPH students taking a study break and helping at the FestiFools studio

Two SPH students taking a study break and helping at the FestiFools studio

FestiFools is Ann Arbor’s family-friendly version of Mardi Gras with an April Fools Day theme. Undergraduate students from across the university (primarily non-art students) enroll in the semester-long course, taught by Mark Tucker of LHSP, to learn how to make a 14-foot tall papier-mache puppet from scratch. Additionally art students in Nick Tobier’s course at the School of Art and Design also construct enormous puppet creations for the FestiFools event. The climax of all the students’ work is to showcase the puppets on Main Street near April Fools Day for the general public to enjoy. FestiFools is always looking for volunteers to help sculpt, papier-mache, paint and especially carry the puppets around on FestiFools day (April 5th – THIS Sunday!). Recently, some SPH students went to the studio to help out, and more will be there this Sunday. It makes for a great study break! Check out more photos of puppets-in-progress by Myra Klarman, the official photographer of FestiFools.

Why post this in a blog about public health? I believe that one indicator of a truly healthy community is the quality (and even quantity) of its arts. Ann Arbor is generally a pretty healthy community (I’ll write more about all the natural foods options and exercising opportunities in other posts), with a lot of community involvement. Art allows us to express our feelings – our hopes, desires, fears, joys, and challenges, and brings us together as a community. What are your favorite types of art?