Silverthorne’s Got Hope
Published June 5, 2020
Shannon Galpin has a lot to say to her beloved Summit County residents, and a pandemic won’t stop her. Galpin, global activist and internationally acclaimed street artist, has partnered with Building Hope Summit County and fellow artist Koko Baker to create and install a range of public art with messages of hope and love.
It all started several months ago, when Shannon was asked to give the commencement address to the Summit High School Class of 2020. Armed with her inspiring stories of social injustice and activism from a decade of work on women’s rights projects in Afghanistan and elsewhere, Shannon prepared to deliver an important message to the seniors of Summit County.
And then Covid-19 transformed life as we know it.
Shannon delivered her address virtually, and the experience, while meaningful, inspired her to do more. She wanted to build on her commencement address about injustice to weave in a new message: hope. And she got to work to make sure that message was felt by the entire community.
Shannon reached out to the communities of Silverthorne, Dillon, Frisco and Breckenridge with a creative proposal. Could she create a county-wide street art installation as a direct response to the mental health needs of this community (especially for its youth) during this time of uncertainty and isolation? The answer came promptly. Yes. Within a week, Shannon was hard at work on the project.
For the first phase, Shannon and Koko started with temporary installations of Koko’s hearts, accompanied by supporting words—in both English and Spanish—from Shannon. Then came semi-permanent pieces, including a heart on the side of Silverthorne’s Family & Intercultural Resource Center building, visible to those in line for food assistance.
Their next task: a love letter mural at the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, visible from Highway 9 and based on the theme of hope.
During Shannon’s commencement speech, she said that hope is often looked upon as the soft sell. She jokingly referred to it as the pastel pink rainbow shooting out of a unicorn. But really, she said, hope is the foundation to mental health.
“I was asked to speak specifically because of my social justice work, and how I use street art as my voice,” Shannon explained. “But every protest, every movement, every peaceful revolution starts with hope. You can’t build courage or resilience, without hope.”
The project planned for the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center will feature lines and colors cut and pasted in a cut and paste “ransom note” effect. The mural, visible from Highway 9, will display the following words: love, hope, strength, courage, and peace. It is expected to be completed by mid-June.
About the artist
Though she has been a Summit County local for 16 years, this marks Shannon’s first art project at home. Her work combines social activism and street art, and has been recognized everywhere from National Geographic to the International Olympic Committee to the United Nations. Shannon was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Because it is accessible to everyone, Shannon calls street art the great equalizer, and a way for social justice movements to become revolutions.
In Shannon’s spare time, if it can be believed that she has any, she enjoys mountain biking the local trails and spending time with her daughter, a freshman at Summit High who works on art installations of her own.
Next up, after she completes the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center installation, Shannon plans to create a permanent installation with students inside Summit High School. This project will be a love letter for students, from students communicating the same critical message on Shannon’s heart: hope.
To learn more about Shannon Galpin, visit shannongalpin.com. Find out more about the Town of Silverthorne’s public art program, including all of the current exhibitions, at https://www.silverthorne.org/discover-silverthorne/arts-and-culture/public-art.