Roanoke earns its wings for the holidays, thanks to a downtown public art display

ROANOKE (WSLS10)-- A new public art installation in Downtown Roanoke has a lot of people taking and sharing their photos. If you've been to the market area during the past month, you've probably seen the Roanoke Wings exhibition-- a temporary display that's bringing people out to enjoy and interact with the art.

It's all part of a collaboration between Hollins University, Downtown Roanoke Incorporated and the Roanoke Arts Commission. The pieces were put in place just before Dickens of a Christmas-- where an estimated 30,000 people headed to the Star City for the Christmas Tree lighting, the parade and the pet costume contest and snow zone.

A big public art display like this is a good way to get more people into the Downtown area to check it out and enjoy the local restaurants and shops while they're there. Even more people are expected to stop by over the next week, when many students are out of school and parents have a few days off of work.

"We wanted something that would be colorful, bright and vibrant-- pulling people in and informing them," says Jennifer Anderson, the Associate Professor of Studio Art whose class designed and created these wings. "I think as people go through all of these projects they'll learn a little bit and hopefully share what they're learning as well, both with each other and online."

The hashtag associated with the project, #RoanokeWings, has dozens of photos on Facebook and Twitter of people enjoying this art while it's here. By using the hashtag, more people are seeing the art online and coming downtown to check it out for themselves.

Students in the Public Art Class at Hollins University spent a lot of time brainstorming ideas for the three displays. After plenty of research and discussions about which images would resonate with people in the Roanoke Valley, they got to work making those visions a reality. There are three separate sets of wings-- one features notable women of Virginia history, another has images of landmarks throughout the Roanoke Valley and a third has a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Mill Mountain Star.

Erin Leslie, a senior at Hollins, played a major role in creating the notable women of Virginia wings. She says reading and learning more about all of the great women in history was truly inspiring.

""It was just great to see someone from my school, an alum from Hollins, become a notable woman in Virginia's history," she says. "We could all be that. I just learned a lot about art in the public. Having people come by and interact with it, it's just a really great experience."

The wings will be set up in Market Square through January 6, so there's still plenty of time to check them out in person.