poetry as visual art

An example of Buddhist prayer flags


Art is not just about beauty but a form of self-expression and a portal for communication. Throughout the summer on the first Friday of every month, residents can show community spirit by writing haikus about Mt. Lebanon on pieces of cloth that will be sewn into a flag banner. The event, which premiered June 7, will run till September 6. The final product can be seen at the Plein Air Mt. Lebanon, September 29 through October 6.

During First Friday, the art stand is located outside the Mt. Lebanon Municipal Building, where attendees receive a piece of colored 9×9 cloth and a permanent marker. A haiku, which is short form poetry of Japanese origin, traditionally does not rhyme and is composed of three lines that contain five, seven and five syllables each.

The pieces of cloth will be stitched together by The Fabric Place in the style of a Buddhist prayer flag but will not endorse any philosophy. “[I’m] not trying to promote anything but art,” Mt. Lebanon Commercial Districts Manager Eric Milliron says. The multicolored Buddhist prayer flag style is visually appealing and attractive, especially when blowing in the wind, Milliron says. For the Mt. Lebanon banner, the different handwriting and different styles of each flag will look interesting when sewn together.

Milliron created the idea to capture  residents’ thoughts of their community. The open-ended theme gives the audience flexibility to be creative and Milliron hopes it gives a deeper connection to the Plein Air art event. The art project is supposed to attract a wide range of audience of various ages. “Even if you write something an English professor thinks is horrible, it will be displayed,” Milliron says. Many children have been just drawing pictures and writing their names instead of writing poems.

Milliron has purchased 200 pieces of fabric from The Fabric Place that will measure out to 150 linear feet. The total cost of the project was $50, donated by the Mt. Lebanon Partnership. The location of the banner depends on the length but Washington Road and Clearview Common are candidates.