From the outside, 3 Dots Downtown may seem like any other brick building on the corner of Beaver Avenue, but what lies inside is what Maeve McCullough said is a “whole new world,” especially when it comes to the newly decorated bathrooms.
At the end of January, 3 Dots created an Instagram post calling on local artists to make their mark in State College by applying to “redesign and install their vision” in the public restrooms.
The idea came about when Corey Elbin, an arts programmer with Gorinto Productions, was working closely with 3 Dots. With such a creative space, Elbin told the executive director that the bathrooms needed to be cooler.
Erica Quinn, executive director of 3 Dots, said the idea was “kind of an experiment” as they chose two artists with innovative ideas out of 15 to 20 candidates. McCullough and Bella Lucy were the lucky winners of the contest.
“Their proposals set up these new worlds that make the door to the bathroom almost like a portal to somewhere different,” Quinn said. “One is much more sculptural, and the other one is painted, so they really feel like these two different experiences.”
McCullough was a Penn State student who graduated in 2018 with a degree in integrated arts. McCullough said she wanted to create an installation that was “otherworldly.”
“I pitched it as a melting disco ball,” McCullough said. “For a full week I just painted and added more and more stuff like rhinestones, so now it’s sort of like a glitter cave.”
While McCullough was finishing up her sculptural mural in one of the 3 Dots bathrooms, she was also transitioning between State College and New York, where she just accepted a job offer as an art assistant.
“I’m grateful for Erica and everyone at 3 Dots for letting me put something up before I leave,” McCullough said. “It’s a nice little closing to my chapter here, almost like leaving my little thumbprint here.”
The other chosen artist, Isabella Del Signore, known by the artist name Bella Lucy, also said “everything is coming to a nice close” for her in State College as she finishes her multimedia degree this semester and works toward her career.
“I really want to work hard to not be afraid of my career with the whole artist stereotype of not having a stable career,” Del Signore (senior-art) said. “Having to make your own opportunities as an artist and being rewarded for putting yourself out there is so amazing.”
Del Signore did just that when applying for the 3 Dots bathroom redesign. She submitted her portfolio and Instagram page with no particular idea in mind, but she soon found inspiration from a local açai bowl shop.
“I remember being in Playa Bowls downtown and seeing this mirror that says, ‘You look amazing’ and wanting something similar to that,” Del Signore said. “I want this bathroom to be a hype-up place.”
Del Signore’s love for fashion inspired her to paint clothing racks full of fashionable clothing on the walls and various, colorful faces popping out of the sides of the mirror to make it interactive. In the mirror she wrote, “You’re Rockin This Fit!” to make visitors feel special when they look in the mirror.
With the artists finishing up their restroom murals, Quinn said “visitors have been really delighted so far.”
“It’s one more way we can kind of provide something unexpected for the community,” Quinn said. “It’s great because if people have ideas for what they want to see happen, they can connect with us, and we’ll talk about how to make it happen.”
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