The EC artists are embarking on a new project—public art. The project was initially inspired by an
image of J. Seward Johnson’s public art piece “Awakenings” depicting a giant embedded in the earth, struggling to free himself as he wakes. The image inspired conversations about the differences between public art and “private” art. Who is the public art is for? What is its purpose? What do people think when they see it? Does it change the way the artist creates, when the art will be public?
Phase 1 of our project involved understanding the role of public art in the world, and in our small town. We recognized that our project does not fit the standard definition of public art. Our project will not be sanctioned by any local government. Our art is not meant to be a permanent or fixed installation. We know it may move, be damaged, and even disappear. We want people to interact with our art. Our art will not be big, bold, and obvious. We want it to be small, subdued, and installed with guerrilla-style sneakiness. So, the project soon revealed itself as being more street art than public art. Same intention, different label.
Our ideas were all over the place during phase 1, until our clay/ceramic arts instructor Kristine Hansen introduced us to Ji Lee’s Mysterabbit project. The message? In this hustle-bustle world, stop to enjoy the moment—art is everywhere. We love that. We decided that Lee’s project was exactly what we were trying to achieve, in the same manner we were planning, but on a much (much) larger scale. It was the template we needed.
Once we decided what our overall project would look like, we walked around our neighborhood (Downtown Merced), to scope out locations for installation. We also needed to decide what our small sculptures would be.
It was important to everyone that they be simple and identifiable.
There was brainstorming, model making, and eventually we decided upon the snail.
Phase 2 of our project involves the making of our snails…