Public art is much more than art located in a public place. The notion of public art as just a memorial or sculpture placed on a plaza has given way to art forms which are part of the fabric of the community and are characterized by citizen participation. Over the past twenty years professionals are crossing over artificial academic borders and creating compelling, unique, and cutting-edge public art.
Most major cities are looking seriously at "liveability." Liveability means not only the economic health of the community but also the presence of art in the built environment. Public art is a means through which people in the city can define their identity beyond constructing streets, buildings, and parks. See examples of Art in Public Places
The value of public art on the community is priceless and only appreciates with time. It transforms, energizes, arouses our thinking and promotes interaction. It calms our hurried life and touches the people around it.
Four Key Areas
Public art can be evaluated from the four key areas of
Social Value Public art is meant to add value to the community, its demographic, cultural aspirations and identity. It relates to the history and heritage of the local area and helps build social capital. Appreciation of the work of art comes both from the local and visiting community. See examples of Public Art and Community Art and how they were created.
Environmental Value Public art relates visually and conceptually to the local environment and does not jeopardize it.
Economic Value Helps generate employment for local artists and adds value to public spaces for people who live in the area and also for those who would want to buy into that area.
The art presents a pleasing sight to the local and visiting community.
Integration of Art in Architecture
Public art is an integration of art in architecture. It is created by artists, or a group of artists to communicate and interact with a broad section of people on issues relevant to their lives. Public art may make a statement on the present or the future, or commemorate history. It exists on a permanent or temporary basis on publicly accessible property. They can be in the form of sculptures, murals, fountains, street furnishings, park amenities, light works, live art, and artists’ collaborations on architecture or landscape architecture.
Visual arts in the public eye creates a local identity, adds dimension, depth and character to a community, inspires young minds, apart from adding to the overall beauty and quality of life. It makes a unique contribution to the life of a city by embellishing a man-made environment through which city inhabitants pass on a daily basis.
The skill requirement for the public artist is less traditional but more critical than those whose art is exhibited in galleries or museums. It requires knowledge of creating objects that will withstand public exposure, skills like welding, bronze casting, and fabrication. Other skills, less traditional, but perhaps more critical, are also needed.
Before creation of public art it is necessary to evaluate the site, its historic uses, its traffic patterns, its physical and structural parameters, as well as its unique qualities of place. This understanding is required to integrate the work of art to the surrounding and function as a cohesive and holistic unit.
This calls for cooperation and a collaborative approach from multiple expertises to work together.
The public artist needs much wider experience and expertise and knowledge of structural to diagrams, construction technology and engineering to create safe and enduring public art work. An understanding of the history, culture and aspirations of the community is also necessary to visualize an integrated aesthetic experience on a raw site. The artist’s work will be a lasting community symbol and serve as the voice of the people. Therefore, they need to know how to facilitate meetings and mediate conflicting views.
Public Art and Graffiti
A common feature between public art and graffiti is that both are created by artists and both are accessible to people.
Public art is a juncture or partnership involving:
- In most cases a level of government or a commissioning body
- The artist/s
- The community
- The site.
Graffiti art is a juncture or partnership involving:
- The artist/s
- The site
- Some parts of the community
- In few cases a level of government or a commissioning body.
Site Specific Art
During the mid-1960s, many artists went beyond the gallery walls and adopted site specific art. This form of art integrates so seamlessly into the environment that it's difficult to tell where the piece ends and the surroundings begins. Outdoor site-specific artworks often include landscaping combined with permanently sited sculptural elements In a broader sense site specific art covers any work that is (more or less) permanently attached to a particular location. In this sense, a building with interesting architecture could be considered a piece of site-specific art.
- What is Public Art?
- An Interdisciplinary Public Art Curriculum