Leesa Happapurro is a local Dayton artist whom I personally love with all my heart. Not only is she a talented artist, she is good people. Originally from Detroit, Haapapuro has made Dayton her home. Her work has been described as whimsical, ethereal, and magical—and there is true magic in her ability to engage the community. Last year, at the start of the pandemic, Haapapuro participated in the Dayton Artists United show at the Orphanage Gallery, demonstrating the making of colorful, complicated, fragile looking paper flowers for her Garden of Hope exhibition. This year, she is launching a new exhibit with the Dayton Metro Library, called BRIDGES, which runs from May 1 to June 30, 2021 and explores ideas of unity and the things that connect us.
The community can participate by picking up materials at their library, beginning May 1st,. Kits can be reserved online. The kits include gorgeous rectangular cutouts that feature scrollwork and designs that evoke the designs of wrought iron bridgework. Participants color their “bridge” piece and return it to any branch library. The pieces will be delivered to Haapapuro for installation at the Main Branch library. She plans to connect them together to create an installation piece that is a visual representation of unity. The artist will host free workshops on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 11 am-3 pm.* in the Opportunity Space @ Patterson, inside the Main Library at 215 E Third Street in downtown Dayton and the public can view the work in progress through the windows at the corner of Third Street and St. Clair Avenue. *If the public health advisory is at orange or higher, workshops will take place online.
Haapapuro hopes the installation will engage the community in thinking about how we unify fractured communities and create a focus for conversations about equity. The project has been made possible through an Artist Opportunity Grant from the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District administered by Culture Works and the Dayton Metro Library.
Leesa Haapapuro has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from University of the Arts in Philadelphia and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2000. In addition to being known for creating temporary site-specific installations which invite community participation, Haapapuro is a well-known regional arts educator, which is how I first met her. She has a huge following, because her classes are wonderful and deceptive—she makes you feel like you can create anything, then she connects your work to the works of others and makes you feel like you are a part of something bigger. Her work is shown through-out the region, and she has sculptures in the permanent collection of the Dayton Art Institute and at Wright State University. I think she is one of Dayton’s gems, and I advise you take advantage of this opportunity to participate in her installation. Reserve your kit today!
Author: Curtis Bowman
Dayton Artists United