A new project is making rainy days a little more magical in Huntington. The South Side neighborhood unveiled RainWorks, or positive messages and art that appear when it rains, on the sidewalks around Miller Park Sunday.
The South Side neighborhood is the first area to try RainWorks on its sidewalks as a pilot project for the city.
“We want to brighten people’s rainy days, so when it’s actively raining, you’ll be able to see this,” said Jennifer Wheeler, Huntington City Council member for District 4.
The initiative is a product of the local community, starting with the 18-year-old artist behind it: Kathleen Korstanje. More than a year ago, she was a high school student in Huntington, when the Mayor’s Council for the Arts started collaborating with her on the idea. Now, Korstanje is a freshman art major at West Virginia University and made the trip back to her old neighborhood to see the reveal.
“They were looking to bring more art into the community and I’ve always been really passionate about that, so I think it was a great fit to bring this project alive,” said Korstanje.
The process involves placing a stencil on the sidewalk and applying a hydrophobic solution, which repels water and reveals the design when it rains.
The South Side Neighborhood Association used a community micro-grant from the city to purchase the supplies. Marshall’s Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) cut the plastic stencils for the project.
“Along with all the incredible organizations and incredible artists, there’s still a technical side that needs to be considered for projects like this and we bring that expertise to the communities we call home,” said Deacon Stone, who works for RCBI and lives in the South Side neighborhood.
It may be a small change, but it’s a simple way to instill creativity and pride in the community.
“I really hope that it brings some happiness to a rainy day, and that it shows that anyone can do anything and anyone can bring art to their people and their community,” said Korstanje.
Wheeler said the city would like to see the project spread to other areas, as well. Anyone interested in bringing RainWorks to their neighborhood sidewalks can reach out to the Mayor’s Council for the Arts.
There are also a variety of Do-It-Yourself methods. However, if you plan to put the art on public sidewalks, a city right-of-way permit is required. It can be obtained for free through the City of Huntington’s permit department.