LEAD — Local artist Cary Thrall is bringing the Linking Fences community art project to Manuel Brothers Park in Lead. 

Thrall, who participated in last year’s Linking Fences project in Spearfish, spearheaded the program in Lead by engaging local art students at Lead-Deadwood Middle School, as well as residents from Golden Ridge Senior Living in a lesson on pop art, which incorporated key figures from the history of Lead and the Black Hills.

“I love teaching,” Thrall said. “Any group – it doesn’t matter what age it is.”

Thrall’s lessons highlighted the pop art movement of the 50s and 60s and explained some of the elements that make the art style an eye-catching choice for artists today.

“The style used hard edges, techniques of commercial painting, bold colors, simple schemes,” Thrall stated in her lesson. “(It) showcased representational works using mundane reality, irony, and parody.”

The students and residents tried their hands at applying the pop art style to some “famous faces” of the Black Hills. Thrall based her final designs for the project on the artwork produced by the residents and students.

“People know pop art,” she said. “So they can really tack into it and it’s still really valid.”

Thrall said the lessons helped give her a sense of what was important to the community, and how to focus the final product.

“Strong community is a space for healthy children, families, and organizations,” Thrall said in a proposal to the city of Lead.

Thrall believes there has been a lack of communication and community togetherness in recent years, and she hopes bringing people together with a community art project could help repair that.

“The execution of the design, I believe, also demonstrates that the people of this town are united,” she said. “This expression of art is nourishing in many ways.”

The four figures Thrall focused the project on are Donald H. McLaughlin, who is credited with expanding the longevity of the Homestake Mine; Chief Gall, who was a well-known leader of the Lakota people both in war and peace times; Phoebe Apperson Hearst, whose philanthropic contributions to the area helped transform Lead from a company town to a Victorian era hub of culture and education; and Thomas Grier, whose regulatory advancements helped grow the Homestake Mine into the largest gold mine in the world of its day. 

Working from the pieces created by the students and residents, busts of these influential figures from Lead’s past were painted in the pop art style by Thrall and have been attached to the fence overlooking the Open Cut in Manuel Brothers Park.

The installation is designed to last for around three years, and Thrall is already looking forward to expanding on the community art project.

“Hopefully down the road in the future, more people will get involved with the installation,” she said.

To learn more about the Linking Fences community art project and to see a behind the scenes look at the installation, visit CAT Scratch Studios on Facebook or email Thrall at catscratchdesigns@gmail.com.

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