What Happened to the Art in Public Art? Compromising a Civic Agenda
Public art is often described as a mandated collaboration between artist and landscape architect, private developer, government, community representatives, architect, or other design professionals. However, art is fundamentally about the collaboration between our willingness and ability to attend and engage the work. This fundamental shift in the social role of the artist has transformed the professional field of public art in America.
This analysis will cleave the enigmatic difference between the process of creating a work of art and that of engaging in a formal public art process. It is critical for public art programs to ascertain whether they are successfully recognizing the reciprocal interaction between space forming and space contingent art because the creation of social space is distinct from the social relations that are spatially produced. Our understanding of this difference is of consequence to practitioners of public art because too frequently we establish the physical and cultural context for public art and then ask artists to bring us together in an inventive constellation that is rarely new and is plagued with familiarity. This paper offers strategic recommendations through which to locate the intersection of public art process and product, as well as identify the fault lines are that can rupture art.
Keywords: Public Art, Role of the Artist, Funding of Public Art, Government Commission Process, Public Participation Process
Principal, Percent for Art Collaborative LLC