Words to Art: Art on the ART Bus

“YOUR ART BUS DRIVER’S VOICE IS MADE VISIBLE IN THESE ARTWORKS Do you know your ART bus driver’s story? Known for her handmade storybooks, artist Sushmita Mazumdar collected words of childhood fears, identity, and family stories from the drivers who greet you daily. By turning their words into the artwork you see exhibited aboard this bus, the artist has made a part of their lives visible to us all.”

The ART on the ART Bus program is curated by Arlington Arts, bringing art out into our community. Arlington Rapid Transit or ART is the bus system in Arlington, VA. Arlington Arts special projects curator Cynthia Connolly thought it would be cool to filling an ART Bus with art, converting 2-3 busses into a mobile art gallery and getting local artists to make the artworks. Check out this video about it!

When Sushmita was asked to think of a project for this that would go up in January 2018, here is how she started:

  1. ART Bus crew: If an ART bus is full of art, I wonder what the bus driver, the maintenance crew, and the mechanics think of it? Do they connect with the art or does it get in their way? Do they enjoy it or understand it or do they feel they can’t understand it and it’s not for them? How do the employees who work with transit systems connect with their workspaces? How would they feel if they were part of the art making or art selecting process? What would it mean if the artworks connected with them or their life in a deeper way than as viewers?
  2. Bus Riders: Transit systems are made for the riders, to best suit their needs. But what do they know about the people who maintain the busses and drive them where they want to go? What will riders feel/think when they get to know their bus crew through art on the bus?


  1. The project begins Nov 30, 2017, when Sushmita and Cynthia attend the monthly safety meetings bus operators attend. They will share info about the project — the recent Washington Post article about Arlington’s Art on the ART Bus, show them the storybook BHOOT! Story of a Boy’s Fear which inspired the project, and do a demo of how she makes words into calligraphic artworks using various implements. Then she will ask the bus crew for their words and take them to her studio to inform her artworks.
  2. Over the next month she will create artworks from the words.
  3. Then they will bring the artworks back to the bus drivers who get to pick their favorites which will then be installed on an ART bus that will be on the roads of Arlington Jan 2018-Dec 2018.

STAY TUNED! Photos will be posted on Facebook.com/studiopausebysush, and on Instagram @studiopause

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