A public art project is aiming to restore vibrancy to empty buildings in downtown Niagara Falls. More than 100 silhouettes of Niagara University students and others cut out of black paper are lining the windows of vacant structures at Third and Main Streets.
The project is meant to recall the thriving days of Niagara Falls while attracting more investment to thearea. Organizers hope the life-sized “Shadow Selfies” will help to highlight the commercial potential of specific buildings.
“What the Shadow Selfies will represent being installed in the windows is community action, community interest,” said Michael Beam, curator of exhibitions and special projects at the Castellani Art Museum. “Each selfie represents one person who’s participating in this project, in this grassroots sort of renaissance.”
Beam and others said that new restaurants and other businesses, especially along the Third Street Corridor, are contributing to an upswing in Niagara Falls. They hope that public art will continue this trend.
“This interest in urban living is coming back, of course as we know very well in Buffalo, but it is spreading to Niagara Falls. Albeit, a little slower, but it is coming,” Beam said.
More public art is slated to keep popping up as a result of Niagara University’s NU Arts program. In May, NU Arts partnered with the museum and the Niagara Falls Boys and Girls Club to provide a studio for Niagara University students and community members, where they traced their silhouettes for the “Shadow Selfies” project.
The silhouettes are framed with white and backlit in the evenings from the inside of select vacant buildings as the busy tourism season gets under way.
“This program, NU Arts, developed by the Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University is a two-part project. This Shadow Selfie project is the very first kickoff,” Beam said. “We’ll be doing two or three of these projects each season. So you’re going to see more happening.”