April 10, 2014

A Study of Collaborative Public Art Projects

A Study of Collaborative Public Art Projects

Since the conclusion of my collaborative mapping project, I’ve been pondering ways to develop it further. I think holding the initial piece in a gallery setting affected the results, for better or for worse, and I want to change the setting of the project to see how responses would change. I want to put the map outside.

Public art is no easy task — the piece must be able to withstand the elements, including rain, sun, and heat, and also withstand people, like children that might ruin it or adults that might steal from it. I’ve been scouring the internet for successful collaborative public art, and I want to contain it all here.

1. Public Art Installation, 16th July 20011 at St Augustine of Canterbury School_Werneth/Oldham


This was a project to draw attention to and create a dialogue over the abandoned houses in Oldham. Students (and teachers, since these kids look young) hung up metal sheets, and then created messages with the magnets. I like the relative low cost of the magnets, and that people can take them as a memento. I don’t think this was an intended outcome, but the message deteriorates similarly to the abandoned houses, and a message can fade as more people affect it.

2. The Wildly-Popular “Before I Die” Project by Cindy Chang


I’ve seen this chalkboard wall all over the internet; I’m sure many artists have taken this idea now and replicated it all over. I saw it at Root City Market a few weeks ago, and it’s still neat. The idea is that viewers are presented with a piece of chalk and the opportunity for them to wonder what they will do before they leave this earth. A beautifully introspective piece that changes each time people get their hands on it. Made out of paint/plywood, and chalk — very durable, and also portable.

3. Confessions, by Candy Chang

While researching the Before I Die, I came across Chang’s website — a great resource for collaborative projects.

Confessions-11-plaques-still-love-her Confessions-booths-front

This one is very simple, very elegant — reminds me of a real life version of Post Secret. I like that confessions can range from all over, and aren’t necessarily required to be family-friendly.  Also the confessions look to be created on wood, which makes them more durable. I could read these confessions for hours, and I think the participants have endless content to bring forward — we all have things to confess.

4.  To Do, by Illegal Art 

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 3.39.29 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 3.39.21 PM

This one is so simple and perfect, and at the same time a little weird. It’s a giant, community-wide To Do list. The Post-It notes are genius, because they’re cheap, easily replaceable, and not worth stealing. I’m surprised that none of the notes fell off during the duration of this piece — maybe they were taped on? I like the idea of large scale pixel art too — how cool would this be if it existed out in a public space?

5. Yellow Arrow Project, by Brian House


One of my favorite ideas so far, the Yellow Arrow project was created by Brian House in 2004. Basically, they got a bunch of sticky yellow arrows and placed them in strategic locations around the city, with information on them. If you text the provided code to a specific number, you immediately get a text with data about that location. I would love to do a project that highlighted places of high turnover, or even minimal turnover. That is, you walk up to a building and type in a code, and you get a list of all the places that building used to be. The Urban Outfitters near my house in Atlanta used to be a furniture store, and before that it was a grocery store. The unspoken history of buildings.

If I believe anything, I believe that art is a two way conversation! We should have the power to affect the pieces in our lives. This is why I love the internet, especially what I do. It takes a one way conversation (print media) and turns it into a dialogue.

If handled correctly, collaborative public art can be an amazing tool to make change.

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3 thoughts on “A Study of Collaborative Public Art Projects

  1. Sean says:

    Thanks for collecting these here, Sarah.
    I have been scouring the internet for more collaborative art “recipes” to give as homework for my class. Their first assignment came from a piece at the Seattle Art Museum from about 10 years ago. The instructions were to draw a map of your neighborhood, and the path you take through it. At the museum these were collected daily and displayed. Each was unique. (I don’t know if they were ever combined into a working map, as that would take some real magic.)

    1. Sarah Lawrence says:

      That’s so fun Sean, I love it! Thanks for the comment.

  2. gorgousart says:

    Wow Great Collection sarahclawrence… I really Love this Information thanks for sharing this with us.

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