The Vermillion Street Piano was an art intervention introduced to the community of Vermillion, South Dakota during the COVID-19 pandemic. By applying Burke’s (1945/1962) pentad to this artifact and analyzing the scene-act ratio, I argue that the materialistic (i.e., scenic) constraints surrounding the piano meaningfully shaped and motivated the community experiences facilitated by the instrument. As street art situated in an outdoor, unsupervised location, the piano invited creative engagement from the community while suffering damages. The scenic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic both augmented the therapeutic experiences offered through this art piece and presented risks for community members seeking interaction. An application of perspective by incongruity (Burke, 1935/1984) complements this pentadic analysis by underscoring the significance of the scene; the appearance and location of the instrument challenged traditional assumptions about art and music. The Vermillion Street Piano is one illustration of the many ways the COVID-19 pandemic shaped and will continue to impact social activities around the world.



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