Public Art/Moving Site is a traveling presentation of public art that will respond to and be presented in three New England communities. The collaborating Project Partners are: Cambridge Arts Council (CAC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts (www.cambridgeartscouncil.org); Rockingham Arts and Museum Project (RAMP) in Bellows Falls, Vermont (www.ramp-vt.org); and Artspace in New Haven, Connecticut (www.artspacenh.org) have had extensive experience bringing visual and performing arts to diverse neighborhoods, serving those who are not normally part of the traditional audience for artistic presentations.
The City of Cambridge, the Village of Bellows Falls, and the City of New Haven all grew up along rivers and were shaped by the industrial past of New England. While sharing common threads of geography and history, each town has developed a unique character determined by a combination of social, physical, and historical influences. Public art responds to these influences and offers metaphors for enriching the life of a community.
Working with a NEFA Planning Grant, project partners developed an innovative public art project that would stretch the concept of “site”. Public Art/Moving Site defines site as both stationary and moving. Project artists will respond to the characteristics of each location as well as the journey the art will take. Each artwork/performance/exhibition will retain its integrity while accumulating the experience of its residency in Cambridge, New Haven, and Bellows Falls.
Hosted by the arts organizations, three artists will each present a public art project consecutively in three states. All three projects will rotate from January through May 2006, giving each community a sequence of three six-week presentations: January 9 February 17; February 27 April 7; April 17 May 26. Working closely with the artists, CAC, RAMP, and Artspace will set a course for each project that will include an installation at a prominent public site, a public performance event, an artist’s talk, and an exhibition in a public gallery space. Public Art/Moving Site seeks to engage the public in a conversation that addresses the relationship between art and site and to provide an opportunity to consider public art in its ability to make geographic and cultural connections.
The NEFA Expeditions Planning Grant has provided essential support to Public Art/Moving Site. After a nation-wide call to artists using newsletters, list-serves, and recommendations, three artists were chosen based on a review of supporting materials and interviews with five finalists. The selected artists are: Michael Oatman, Spurse - www.spurse.org (a collaborative team with Iain Kerr, J. Morgan Puett and others), and DeWitt Godfrey. Each of these artists brings a unique sensibility to art in public spaces and extensive experience in collaboration. Their work is of the highest quality. Together they will form a public art series, free and open to the public, that will respond to each community through multiple lenses social, cultural, physical, historical. [See artists’ supporting materials.]
Public Art/Moving Site assumes the language of public art to be malleable, allowing art to adapt and respond while retaining its impact. The choice of the collaborating states of Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut offers opportunities for art to find a context within divergent populations: urban/rural; resident/tourist; dominant/minority; local/global. Public Art/Moving Site will build relationships among diverse sites, diverse cultures, and diverse audiences.