Street Piano

Erin Ruffino

Bio: Erin Ruffino was born in Buffalo, New York in 1997. She lives and works in Fredonia, NY where she graduated May 2019 from the State University of New York at Fredonia with a BFA and merit certificate for Excellence in Drawing and Painting. Her most recent exhibitions include "Mini Masterpieces" at Revolution Gallery in Buffalo, NY, "2020 Vision: Women Artists of Western New York" at the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University, "Flesh and Bone Ill" in Washington D.C., and "The 5x5 Project" at Abend Gallery in Denver, CO. She is the co-founder and co-owner of 716 Murals, a mural-painting business which has has created six large-scale artworks for areas companies.

Title of Work: Beneath Us, Between Us

Description: My concept is a colorful version of the geological sediment layers of the Fredonia/Dunkirk region and uses vintage maps to connect the two cities.

Why want to participate: Recently completing murals for area businesses including Dunkirk Specialty Steel and Chautauqua Nursing and Rehabilitation Center has allowed me to witness firsthand how much of an impact art can have. Finishing a piece of art is certainly validating, but with each project, I learn the most rewarding aspect of creation is taking art into public spaces, workplaces, homes, and most importantly, people's daily lives. At the steel plant, it was incredible to see how excited employees were when they recognized their coworkers' larger-than-life faces on the wall and to hear how the mural makes them feel the company is honoring their hard work. Being able to speak with workers revealed clearly to me that art does not only function as a way to decorate a space, but also as a way to bring joy to someone's day. In the dementia ward at the nursing home, the most enjoyable part of the project was watching residents walk or wheel by, stop, and take in the painting all at once. The scene connected them to memories of places they've lived and time well-spent with family and friends. The Fredonia Street Piano Project brings both music and visual art into unexpected public places. If allowed the opportunity to participate in this project, I would be reminded of art's transcendental ability to bring a bit of happiness to people's day and I would do my best to create work that hopefully reconnects people to their surroundings.

In what ways do you see your proposed piano artwork connecting with the community?  As a life-long Fredonia native, I am familiar with wanderlust feelings stemming from living in a small rural town. When we have lived in one area for many years, it becomes all too easy to take for granted what makes a place special. For those of us in Chautauqua County, we don't have to look far to remind ourselves how fortunate we are to call this region home. Researching the history of the area has rekindled my appreciation for this town, and I hope my piano would serve the community by acknowledging how the land supported those who came before us. The mural features a colorful interpretation of the geological layers of rock resting beneath our feet. The bands of color stretch onto the sides of the piano, overlapping vintage maps from when the towns were first established. The map sections were chosen to reaffirm Fredonia and Dunkirk's connection by streets and Canadaway Creek. The region's pioneers used the creek for everything from fishing, traveling, powering saw and grist mills, and supplying natural gas from shale deposits for electricity to power street lights. Being so essential to our community, the creek is highlighted in white on the back of the piano as it runs through downtown Fredonia. In early settlements, the creek made life possible. Today, the creek is one of many features that makes life wonderful. It is my hope for this mural to encourage area residents to appreciate just how much the land has supported life here, both beneath us and between us. 

Take the next step