Public Art Reston Picks Artist to Transform Colts Neck Road Underpass

The Colts Neck Road underpass will soon get its long-awaited makeover.

Public Art Reston recently awarded a contract to Philadelphia-based artist Ben Volta to create permanent public artwork for the underpass.

When selecting the artist, Public Art Reston sought someone who could “address the spirit of the Hunters Woods Neighborhood; respond to the cultural diversity of the community; and develop an artwork that identifies the underpass as a civic facility within the fabric of the surrounding neighborhood,” according to a Public Art Reston press release.

Public Art Reston’s Executive Director Anne Delaney said that Volta stood out because of his previous community engagement coupled with his powerful and colorful art.

“The project is an opportunity for infrastructure beautification, engagement, education and inspiration,” Delaney said. “It will promote active use of the underpass that links residential areas, Hunters Woods Village Center, two schools, two senior facilities and two community centers.”

Known for his public murals and sculptures, Volta will work on the project with the Dogwood and Hunters Woods elementary schools, in addition to partnering with Hunters Woods at Trails Edge, a soon-to-open senior living facility.

Volta, who is familiar with working with students in participatory art creation, told Reston Now that he plans to engage with kids in the classrooms with the hope of brainstorming an idea, color or shape that will then get incorporated into the art.

Right now, he is working to get the design done before summer break starts for the kids.

He has started making several planned site visits, where he also meets with students, teachers and administrators at the two schools. “I like to start with the site,” Volta said about his artistic process.

While the Colts Neck underpass was “dark with lots of mud everywhere” on his first visit, Volta said he’s been thinking about how the tunnel’s purpose as a passageway between the two schools can lead to a transformative experience for people who enter and exit it.

“Really, the site has a lot to say because of the way people experience it,” Volta said.

Volta said he didn’t know much about the Hunters Woods area before he was chosen for the project, but said he was struck on his first visit by the area’s connection to nature. “I really fell in love with Reston.”

The project has an anticipated installation in the summer so that the artwork will be ready for when students return to classes in the fall, he said.

Photo of Ben Volta courtesy of Public Art Reston

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