Public Art as Platform for Collective Memory

June 26, 2020, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Session Type: Panel

How can an artist’s voice amplify forgotten, overlooked, or marginalized community stories? How can a rigorous artistic practice uncover and meaningfully manifest collective memories of place and home? How can the public display of community memory raise awareness of historic wrongs, build empathy for marginalized peoples, and instill a greater understanding of shared humanity? In this session, three multidisciplinary artists will discuss intimate and long-term collaborations with community-based organizations in the Pittsburgh region, facilitated by the Office of Public Art, that resulted in public artworks that amplify unheard, underrepresented, or marginalized narratives. These three artists inscribed the stories of their collaborating communities in the public consciousness and expressed the power of art to represent collective experience. In order to authentically research, develop, and represent collective memory, each artist underwent an intensive process that involved trust-building, community and stakeholder engagement, and ongoing communication and project management. This process, managed by the Office of Public Art (OPA), placed each artist either in residency or in close collaboration with a partnering community-based organization. Hear from OPA on the development and implementation of these processes and from the artists on both the challenges they faced and the successes they enjoyed.

Arts administrators, artists, and creative professionals seeking to create, develop, or learn more about artist-community collaborations are welcome and encouraged to bring questions of their own to this panel-style session. Time will be held at the end of the session for learning from each other and acknowledging the expertise in the room.

Learning Objectives:
  • Identify and evaluate aspects of critical creative practice that contribute to authentic engagement, relationship- and trust-building, and community buy-in for works of public art.
  • Recognize common themes in process and project management that support meaningful, positive, and productive outcomes for artists, community members, and arts administrators.
  • Understand the artist’s point of view through three firsthand accounts from a playwright, a multimedia producer, and a visual artist about the processes and practices behind the creation of three diverse public artworks that illuminate and center the collective memories of underrepresented and marginalized communities.