Engagement -> C.I.S. -> Public Art -> Action

Making Public Art Relevant to the Community

In many places, public art has fallen into disrepair or become invisible over time, despite frequent passersby. Occasionally the history behind the art, the inspiration to create and share, and the intentions of the creators can be lost as well. Confluence Project in the Schools was imagined as a public art project where student and community art would encourage lasting bonds with the Confluence Project by exploring the environment, multiple histories and cultures of local areas. The project staff and participating communities envisioned the installations would stand as a parallel commemoration to the art of Maya Lin, and in some locations make connections between history, culture and the environment that might otherwise be overlooked. School and student planners sought to connect their art to the public by using meaningful materials directly from the area, by making an improvement to an existing site, or by making direct reference to community-specific events or natural resources.

At the close of the project, teachers observed that the placement of public art on school sites in common areas strengthened relevance. They commented that the greater the involvement of community members, the more valued the art became. For instance, one chamber of commerce created pamphlets to direct tourists to see the art. Schools staged family art-making and multicultural events. Teachers noted that students took pride in making and installing their art and appreciated the work of the community around them. Students said that through their experience of making art, they realized their roles in the preservation of the land and the environment for the future. They viewed the art as a monument to themselves, their school, their families, their community and their environment.

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