It fuels me, more than I could probably describe. Whether I am creating it or simply an observer of it – art has energizing capacities, inspiring effects and can bridge differing viewpoints in a way that can uncover new truths.
Art, creativity and imagination are weaved into the very fabric of the human condition.
While art may not seem pragmatic or a worthy cause to spend copious amounts of time and money on, a piece of art can literally transform lives, open eyes, and create a unique experience for each observer.
Whether we recognize it or not, we come face to face with various forms of art every day. Art can be found in the architecture of buildings, the design of cars, while the most obvious and pervasive art we are regularly exposed to are adverts.
Generally uninspiring, these forms of art are in fact public art. Art that is free for us to consume and that we have no say in whether we want to consume it or not. It exists around us but is typically both unremarkable and uninspiring.
But that is not always the case. Intentional public art around the world, and not too far from home, is there to reignite what was is possible and help a community identify itself.
Glendon’s giant pyrogy is public art. St. Paul’s UFO landing pad is also public art, because let’s be real – there is no way that landing pad is structurally capable of holding a real spacecraft.
The added value of curated public art is challenging to quantify, but there are groups out there who are researching the benefits of public art that is accessible to everyone.
One doesn’t have to stretch the imagination too much to realize that public art impacts a community’s social and cultural identity. Public art creates identity for a municipal space, it is an invitation to exercise your imagination, it draws in its own tourism.
Places with strong investment in public art break the trend of blandness and sameness. They give communities a stronger sense of place and identity and create iconic images as place holders for a town, city or village.
They become a place to be and a place to see.
Public art is the Eiffel Tower, it is the Statue of Liberty, the Steam Clock and totem poles in Vancouver, Cloud Gate in Chicago, Graffiti Alley in Toronto, even the Talus Dome (silver balls) along Fox Drive in Edmonton.
Public art can shape an entire city’s identity. It can attract spectators from across the world.
Throughout my travels, iconic installations and public art have been at the forefront of things I want to see, photograph and send postcards of.
Whether it is the mural district of Berlin, New York, or Toronto, or the Salmon of Knowledge (The Big Fish) of Belfast, or Trevi Fountain in Rome, public art can capture the eye and mind of someone passing through public spaces.
It can make residents pay attention to their civic environment and experience art through the routine of daily life, beyond the average paid advertisement and billboard trying to sell their products to us.
If done in a way that involves local artists, a municipality can share part of its own history, heritage, and leave a cultural fingerprint.
When looking at designing the cultural fabric of a community, I think it is imperative to remember – public art matters too.