The Process of Public Artwork as a Means of Reconciliation in Urban Areas of Conflict
Donahue, Maura A.
- The wheel of public artwork has been reinvented in the past half century. Challenged and expanded, the genre has revealed an alluring capacity for community engagement; one swiftly employed by artist activists. This new and explicit goal to stimulate civic dialogue has in turn uprooted traditional art processes largely concerned with personal self-expression or adherence to standards of aesthetics... read more. With critical engagement from the community at the core of artists' goals, experimentation with the arts' location, project planning and the role of citizen participation has emerged. Escaping definitive classification and encouraging debate, community-based art endeavors executed in the public sphere appear to be a locus of potential social progress. I propose that this genre of public artwork can be employed as a reconciliatory mechanism in response to community conflict. Specifically, my supposition will center on underserved urban communities in the United States. My investigation is designed around the discussion topics of site location, contested ownership of public space and management of community dialogue. I demonstrate the complexity of site-specificity by tracking how artists or citizens determine the location of a work, the historical relationship of the space to the artist or message, and if the location has an impact on the art product. Second, I utilize the symbiotic relationship between public space and public art, declaring the impact of community ownership integral to the success of the overall attempt towards social progress. Finally, my argument is immersed in the didactic of community dialogue. The set of questions that have emerged from this analysis will aid in guiding artists who are working on public art projects.read less