Graduate symposium: Art in public life and the life of public art
1 April 2017, Yale University, Connecticut, USA
While the concept of “public art” in the American context is often associated with twentieth-century modernism and monumentality, this symposium invites scholars to consider an expanded definition of the term. For instance, how and when does art become public? And how might its meaning shift as its public changes?
At Yale, recent events have illustrated art’s potential capacity to actively shape collective priorities. In 2016, the University convened the Committee on Art in Public Spaces in order to survey artworks on campus and articulate policies to guide future commissions and acquisitions. Furthermore, this past summer, in the aftermath of the University’s decision not to rename Calhoun College, a Yale employee broke a stained glass window depicting enslaved African Americans picking cotton—an act of iconoclasm that exemplified the emotional, social, and political potency of art in the public sphere. The debates that have followed upon these events highlight the key role art can play in discussions of shared space, institutional memory, and inclusivity.
With these recent controversies and conversations in mind, we invite proposals that examine the public, communal, and collective in the art of the Americas. In hopes of broadening the discourse on public art, we invite a wide range of submissions from graduate students working on the visual and material culture of North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean across all time periods and media. [more]