Let Art Freedom Ring: Harrisburg

Ending January 27th, the five “Let Art Freedom Ring” bells previously housed at the landmark building, The National Constitution Center, are making a home in Pennsylvania’s famed capital of Harrisburg.  On display in the historic Capitol Building Rotunda, the bells are part of the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership (PAEP) initiative in cooperation with the National Liberty Bell Museum.

Created two years ago, the “Let Art Freedom Ring” program is founded on the ideals of encouraging students to work alongside art teachers and a mentor artist to create an inspiring piece of art based on ideas of freedom, truth, and equality. Using art as a means by which to learn, students develop their learning skills and creativity outside the classroom. This year the students were given the task of constructing a 6-foot, 3D model of the Liberty Bell.

Each bell represents the students’ interpretation of what freedom means to them. Senator Anthony Williams, a member of the Philadelphia Council on the Arts, arranged for the bells to be placed in the Capitol building rotunda. “The expression of art keeps a student in school and it accelerates their ability to learn,” Williams said.  One of the bells, made by students from Morton Elementary, is reminiscent of floats created for Japan’s Nebuta festivals, which represent the warmth and happiness of life. Brad Vena, Morton Elementary art teacher, was impressed with the job his students did. “The driving force of this project was how ordinary people can do extraordinary things, and the kids clicked with that. They got a sense of fulfillment, seeing something from start to finish.” The students got a chance to learn about United States history outside the textbook and have fun too.

Another bell (in photo) is made up of dollar bills and decorated patriotically, “Life, Liberty, Justice”. The students loved being able to create their own ambassador version of the country’s most beloved bell. Since the bell must remain in Philadelphia, the program is a great way for people throughout PA to witness a symbol of American patriotism. As the abolitionists put it, “Ring Loud That Hollowed Bell! Ring For Freedom.” The program was highly successful this year, with eight elementary and middle schools participating. Check out the winning bell by Julia de Burgos Elementary here.

If you are in Harrisburg before Friday, be sure to stop by and take a look at the wonderful bells.

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