By Input Fort Wayne
WARSAW — Art is all around you, but sometimes, you might not know where to find it.
And if you reside in Kosciusko County, you might not realize just how much art the community has to offer.
These were the realities that catalyzed Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO) and the Kosciusko County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) to create the digital All Things Art map to show where art-related sculptures or buildings are located in the county. The map displays 32 public art locations and numerous other art-related places to visit.
In addition to the map, the All Things Art initiative designed an art brochure that shows all the public art sites. Art enthusiasts can use three passports to earn prizes for checking in to the art destinations. If you check in to all 32 public art locations, you will be entered to win a drawing for $100 to the Village at Winona.
“The response from the community has been positive, from presenting All Things Art to local service clubs to sharing the information with Lakeland Art Association,” said Suzie Light, who supervised the project. “We’ve heard from the community that the project is exciting and a good way to raise awareness.”
Though spearheaded by KEDCO and CVB, the initiative took a whole team of community members to accomplish. Throughout the process, the All Things Art program received support from the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, the Warsaw Public Arts Commission, the Water Lily Art Gallery in Syracuse, the Kosciusko County Chamber of Commerce, and the Kosciusko County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“We set out to do an inventory of art and the many facets of art — performing arts, public art, stores where supplies are sold, artists and those who serve artists,” Light said. “It seems logical to put those assets on a map and share that map with others to help elevate the presence of art in our county.”
To make the art map a reality, someone needed to locate these art destinations across the county and centralize them on the map. Telly Varga, a Grace College senior who started interning as an office associate at KEDCO during his first semester of college, was the ideal candidate. Throughout his year and a half long internship, he worked on various projects that helped highlight the community such as the Clearly Kosciusko podcast. Light assigned him the art map as his final internship project.
“Suzie gave me the prompt and was like, ‘have at it,'” Varga said.
To get an idea of how to start, Varga looked at similar art maps, including Fort Wayne’s, and expanded on the project with his own ideas. He then had to find where each focal point was located, so he could put it into the Google Map he created.
“I put together this massive spreadsheet and drove around Kosciusko County looking for information on companies or sculptures, inputting that information into the map,” Varga said. “Some of that required me going out on the trails and finding the exact coordinates.”
Varga had about 80 locations before he left the internship and handed over the project. He is thankful for the opportunity to inform the community about local art locations.
“I think it is incredibly important for the people within the county to understand how powerful of an arts scene we have here in Kosciusko County,” Varga said. “By raising awareness of all of the different amenities that we have, we can help others find both careers and hobbies here as we build a diverse working community.”
The CEO of KEDCO, Alan Tio, introduced Varga to the company for the internship and enjoyed watching him take on challenges and grow throughout the process.
“I remember being so impressed with both the audacity of his plans to complete undergraduate and graduate degrees in three years and his readiness to take on that kind of a challenge,” Tio said. “I look forward to seeing what Telly accomplishes in his career journey.”
Varga’s experience working on the art map opened his eyes to the talent and potential that exists in his own backyard, too.
“I learned that we really have so many talented people who do not get enough recognition,” Varga said. “It almost felt as if I would never be able to map it all out as there is something artistically interesting around every corner. Take a look at the map, and see for yourself the massive amounts of artistic amenities that surround us each day.”
Will you find all 32 art locations? Check out the All Things Art map and discover how many you can see.