Picnic at Finlay Park

This project was a chance for Artrageous to accentuate the softer side of life to the public of Columbia, SC. Using several University of South Carolina alumni including MFA Scenic designer from the Department of Theatre and Dance Kimi Maeda, USC Opera alum Jessica Gibbons, and USC PR alum Margey Bolen, alongside current Opera MA student Xavier Moses Martin, with a guest appearance by an old Pocket Productions friend Preach Jacobs, we lodged an informal and ambiguous protest written upon wooden signs in Finley Park on Saturday, June 12th at 12:30 in the afternoon.

The signs had a simple poem written on them by a current USC Media Arts student and the recipient of the 2010 Media Arts "Student of the Year Award", Mr. Robert Lehuep. It stated, "To win the human race our thoughts must be embraced." The poem was meant not only to serve as an ambiguous protest but also to serve as a light-hearted poem staked into the grass of the park creating a pathway of words. 

Once a car was driven into the park and loud happy music began to play, the "protesters" would "change their minds" about the protest and decide it is better to love the community. Their poem now in place in the lawn and a final sign reading "Free Hugs" placed at the end of a pathway led the "protesters" to begin dancing in the open field and hugging everyone willing to be hugged and distributing pinwheels to everyone they could. It was hugs all around and has led to a long-term plan to launch "Free Hug Day in Columbia."

While the protest transformed into a hug booth, over 60 members of the Columbia arts community gathered for a picnic in the park. As the flock of picnickers spread out their blankets, onlookers wandering around the top of the park noticed a photographer, surrounded by scattered cards reading “ArtRageous,” documenting something happening in the field below. The picnickers were slowly forming the word “ArtRageous” with their picnic blankets, coolers and lawn chairs.

Picnickers: Dennis Hasty, Devon Jeremy, Debi Schadel, Kate Fox, Mack Warren, Mark Green, Diane Hare, Mark Plessinger, Mike Coleman, Mvs Chandrashekhar, Libby Bussinah, Libby Gamble, Red Frednie, Amy Warren, Paris Ward, Macie Sums, Dara Brown, Scott Ryan Bell, Chris Johnson, Summer Williams, Seth Kahn, Marianna Simina, Alexandria Baker, Christina Wood, Diane Hare, Harriet Ferguson Showman, Joyce Hagins, Jenny Prather, Sara Mckeown, Laura Rooney, Sandra Dickson, Frances Dickson-Vandervelde, Matt Johnson, Bob Johnson, Deb Johnson, Tori Johnson, Kelley Gee, Patrick Mitchell, David Cook, Liam Cook, Isaac Cook, Arlene Marturano, Haley N, Svetlana Berglezova and many more.

Picnic Director: Sherry Warren

Hug Booth/ Protest Director: Aaron Pelzek

Ariel time lapse photography: Kirill Simin

Photographer: Mark Green

Video: Wade Sellers