Oakland, California (EastBayDaily) — This summer, 12 talented young women enrolled in welding and art-bicycle courses at the Bay Area metal fabrication and industrial arts school, The Crucible, with the goal of creating something magical for display at the new Uptown Merritt Art Park by the end of the year. Titled “The Bicycle Bridge,” the whimsical 20-foot arch, which people will be able to walk through, is being made entirely of reclaimed bicycle parts.
The project is a collaborative effort between The Crucible, the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF), artist Michael Christian and Oakland youth. The project will represent the bridge between rivaling East and West Oakland neighborhood, connect with the environmentally-friendly urban bike culture, and tap into the exciting, creative buzz around art bikes.
Christian was chosen by BRAF as the project’s lead artist. Last month, he produced the finalized schematics for the sculpture and immediately began constructing the framework. The project is now at The Crucible, where Christian, the Bay Area art school’s instructors, and the 12 students are adorning the framework with embellishments made entirely of reclaimed bicycle parts.
“The young artists on the project say they really enjoy working with Michael Christian, and they appreciate his creative ideas and his support,” said Jennifer Harrity, Crucible Marketing Coordinator. “They are really putting their hearts into this piece, and they share the excitement knowing that parts of the arch will reflect parts of them and their work.”
The Crucible chose the 12 young ladies from seven West Oakland and East Oakland high schools. To prepare them for the job, the Bay Area industrial art school trained them in MIG welding and art bike construction over the summer. The students are excited about their role in making Oakland a more beautiful and peaceful place.
“People think bike parts are just bike parts—just for bikes, not for making sculpture. It’s really awesome to have our piece there so we can show it off and tell people that’s what we did,” said 17 year-old Pooja D., one of the twelve artists working on the Bike Bridge Project.
“It’s exciting that we’re adding to the community,” said 12 year-old Juliana R., youth artist on the Bike Bridge Project.
National Endowment for the Arts awarded BRAF a $10,000 grant for the project. Fundraising efforts continue, as the project is expected to cost a total of $60,000.
“The sculpture’s site is centrally located in the revitalized Uptown district of Oakland, a transition zone between East Oakland and West Oakland. The sculpture’s arched form represents a bridge between adjacent communities that have a history of conflict,” explains Josie Schimke, Program and Development Assistant for Black Rock Arts Foundation.
“Although only a few blocks away from Oakland’s Downtown business district, this stretch of Telegraph Avenue was recently a ghost town of empty storefronts. It now flourishes with upscale housing developments, nightclubs, restaurants and the newly renovated and opened Fox Theater, which also houses the Oakland School for the Arts, a charter school for 6 to 12 graders, specializing in the arts.”
About The Crucible The Crucible is an educational facility that offers Bay Area art classes in the fine and industrial arts to people at all skill levels and original Bay Area team building events. What started in 1999 in an empty 6,000 square-foot warehouse in Berkeley has now grown to a 56,000 square-foot building in the heart of West Oakland. They offer imaginative and constructive Bay Area kids activities.
The Crucible offers instruction in industrial and fine art for every level from beginning and intermediate to advanced levels in formats ranging from three-hour tasters to ten-week programs. Prices vary by course and duration. Class fees include tuition, studio fees, materials, tool access and safety training. There are no shopping lists for supplies or hidden costs.
About Michael Christian East Bay artist Michael Christian’s 20 years of experience creating large-scale metal works of art—some as high as 65 feet and weighing several tons—made him the logical choice to take the lead and bring the participating students’ creative vision out and to fruition. Christian often exhibits his large-scale works at Burning Man and other outdoor festivals. He has also contributed a number of public works of art to San Francisco and East Bay communities.