What does “Citizen” mean? Several answers to the question were chosen to be part of the annual Community Visuals Sculpture Project and can be seen around University City through September.
The 29th annual sculpture collaboration between the Municipal Commission on Arts & Letters of University City and the Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, the project’s pieces were the creation of four university students and selected from a group of ten.
The theme of “Citizen” was chosen because of a desire by collaboration professors Noah Kirby and Buzz Spector that their students be more engaged as citizens within the community. They pointed out that it also fits well with the collaboration program founder Marvin Levy’s hope that the annual project would continue to explore “ways to involve the citizens of a community in the processes and conversations of public art.”
Chosen for 2015:
Jonathan Berger’s “Golden in Silver” utilizes a photographic art tool from the past, the tintype, to bring together people of the present. At a number of public events from late-winter through the spring, citizens told their stories about University City and had their pictures taken with an old-fashioned tintype camera. These pictures and stories will be shared in exhibitions and through the mail. Berger hopes that through this process “we can begin to recognize the gold of University City, its citizens.” His works will be collected into a gallery presentation in July at the University City Public Library but can also be viewed online at his website, http://goldeninsilver.wordpress.com.
Sarah Hull’s project, “Hands of Change,” celebrates the activist role of citizens, “when people recognized their duty to their community and lifted their voices.” She feels that “activism requires a sense of ownership of one’s community that goes far beyond the role of a resident and forces a community to come together to respond to an issue.” Concrete hands rise up from the ground along Ackert Walkway near the Delmar Loop, holding large semi-transparent historical photographs of activist moments in University City.
A sense of ownership is also reflected in Madeline Marak’s sculpture, “Have A Seat: Say, What’s Good?” which appears near the pavilion in Millar Park, 7603 Carleton Avenue The piece consists of a colorful outdoor living room space, couch and chairs and artificial flowers, where she said “the community can come together and interact in a comfortable setting.” Marak believes “as citizens, we don’t always get to choose where we live, but we can choose how we live in that place.” Her research into the use of public spaces also brought to light the responsibility citizens can come to feel about the public spaces they frequent. The unexpected nature of her piece, she hopes, will encourage even more of a responsibility to the space as well as foster questions and enjoyment.
Jared Stein’s “Stockade” reflects the artist’s belief that “To be a citizen is to enter into a social contract with a given community.” It looks at what happens when the community feels this contract has been broken, through a monument consisting of a large transparent Plexiglass stockade. His piece sits on the area west of the Craft Alliance lot (6640 Delmar) in the Loop, it matches the traditional placement of the stocks – a central and heavily-trafficked public space – and, according to Stein, represents “the transparency of the modern judicial system and as a symbol of the social contract between citizens and the agents of the judiciary.”
Some of the sculpture project’s past pieces, like Rain Man by the Post Office, have become icons of the University City landscape. Funding for the project is made possible in part by the generosity of the Marvin Levy Family, as well as the Regional Arts Commission and the City of University City.
Send questions on the program to the commission by email, to firstname.lastname@example.org.