HUNTINGTON — In Huntington, anything can be art, including a power substation full of unsightly wires and towers buzzing along with the hustle and bustle of the city.
Surrounding the station is a fence of metal panels, each connected by brick columns.
The Huntington Museum of Art, however, has taken on the task of creating a sight more pleasant to the eyes.
While the museum previously painted the bland panels with bright shades of red, blue, green and yellow, on Thursday a ceramic art installation — Rails River Roots, designed by at-risk youths — was added, making it more personalized.
Kathleen Kneafsey, the museum’s artist-in-residence, said the pieces are the result of two years of work through the museum’s ArtWorks! program, created more than 20 years ago as an outreach to at-risk youths.
Many pieces of art from the program can be found around Huntington, but this one can be credited to children in the Pressley Ridge program, who in 2017 and 2018 participated in a six-week winter program in which they were told history about Huntington and taken around the city to learn about it firsthand.
Kneafsey said she knew the project was going to have to do with American Electric Power and the spot adjacent to Heritage Station, but it was the kids who came up with the idea.
The first group created four big clay panels about 4 feet tall and up to 6 feet wide that depict different themes of Huntington, including railroads, the river, its buildings and brick streets and more.
The second group did smaller “tiles,” which surround more of the fence line and bring the panels together.
This week, AEP employees helped hang the pieces, some of which are drilled into the fence and hang by steel.
Kneafsey said the combination of the brick columns, the color of the fence panels and clay make a nice combination that pops.
“It’s good to have a positive thing that celebrates what many of us love, so many things about this city,” she said. “I hope the kids will have an opportunity to come check it out. I hope they have been successful and are happy and can come check it out.”
Kneafsey said the project would not have been possible without the help from AEP and the Huntington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.