SAN DIEGO — A new project in San Diego is helping reconnect the community with parks and artists after the pandemic. The art initiative is called Park Social and explores everything from music and dancing to sculptures and playing. The City of San Diego hired eighteen artists to create temporary and interactive exhibits around different parks.

Trevor Amery hand-carved an ocean-inspired sculpture that sits in Kensington Park. He calls it Barely Touching, a throwback to when parks were some of the only safe spaces to visit with friends and family during the pandemic.

“One of the things I also love is how when kids, you know, around 5 or 6 [years old] come up to it, they just jump on it and just start playing lava and like jumping from rock to rock on it and that’s just really, really sweet,” Amery said.

Barely Touching is a high-touch, interactive sculptural installation that invites park-goers to come together and make rubbings. The project consists of a primary, ocean-inspired platform and additional surrounding rocks carved from wood with plant illustrations cut across their surfaces. Parkgoers can create their drawings by laying paper across the carvings to make rubbings with crayons and meet with Amery during workshops he called Drawn Together.

“You just take your paper, lay it down over, and just go back and forth [with a crayon] and you can capture a different kelp and the different textures in the kelp,” he said.

Christine E. Jones helped bring the art initiative to life. She said it was a way for the city to support artists during the pandemic while encouraging people to explore the outdoors. She said some of the exhibits will surprise people, like Treeline in John P. Baca Park, a community weaving project that is up in the branches of trees.

“It’s actually fabric. And it’s fabric that was collected by the artists from the community,” Jones said.

She hopes other cities copy Park Social as a way to reconnect communities.

“The public in general reconnects with the artistic community of San Diego, has those real life connections with artists in real time in parks space,” Jones said.

Just like the intricate ecosystems Amery carved into his piece, he hopes Barely Touching will remind communities they are all connected.

“So for me, I was just hoping that kids would use it, climb on it, play on it,” he said. “They don’t have to know that it’s art, that’s totally cool. I just want them to, you know, have fun with it, however they will.”

Park Social will go on until the end of November.