Written by: Diego Rodriquez and Sophie Bégin
The end of my internship reminds me of the transformation I’ve experienced over the last few months regarding public art. I am unavoidably public-art conscious! In ways of noticing works, in considering its location,wondering who is responsible for it, what it references, how people are involved……
One aspect of public art which is seldom put into focus is how it comes to be. We can assume all art works stem from an idea, which is then realized through experiments with various materials or mediums. But when an art work is site specific and has an immediate implication to the community its in and the history it references, the responsibilities are heightened. The research involved within the process of public art doesn’t end with the concept of the piece, but is extended to the physical realization of it. While the artwork itself is unquestionably credited to the artists, its completion is achieved through the collaboration of multiple people, within various departments.
A few weeks ago I was invited to sit in a meeting, which focused on the technical review of a potential public art piece by Vanessa Kwan and Erica Stocking. I was amazed to find along with the two artists, a group of over 15 people, each there with a different purpose. Present at the meeting was a Parks Maintenance Supervisor, a building technician, an employee of the parks facility development, a building architect, plumbing technicians, pool supervisors, a building manager, the parks art coordinator, the public art program planner and finally, the public art project manager. All of these people were there on the city’s behalf, to ensure that Vanessa and Erica’s project would safely be executed and made possible. To help them answer any technical questions regarding their work, the artists had the support of a general contractor (for construction), a structural engineer and a mechanical engineer. I sat at the meeting listening to questions and answers bounce back from one person to another, ranging from liability concerns to permits to construction ethics.
Although the artists were chosen by the city to complete this civic art piece, it is their responsibility to confirm from all aspects, that their idea is fully thought out and capable of being executed without any problems . This, needless to say, is ultimately made possible through the partnership of all the workers mentioned above. This element of public art, is only one of many steps needed to transform an idea into a public art piece.
Complex and meticulous, an artist must undoubtedly value the process of it all in light of the piece in its final stage.
For more information on their project, visit this link to the Cultural Services’ web page: Hillcrest Civic Commision