Art in Public Spaces

rt in public spaces provide color in neutral urban landscapes and soften hard forms and objects. It serves to create mental connections with the built and organic landscapes. When observing them, which could be seconds, minutes, or hours, thoughts of all kinds flow through the mind.  Art in public spaces guide humans in travel; tell stories that remind people of their place in life. Roman columns called caryatids were created and erected with frequency to reminds slaves of their station in the society. They were the physical propaganda of the time.

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Art work in Hostos Community College's public space

My original thought about public art was because of a trip my late husband and I took to Guyana. We were in the departing lounge at the airport to go to Trinidad. This was “The Land of Seven Races.” The wall surface, excellent surface space to depict Guyana’s development and the races responsible for its growth and development was a dismal yellow only. No art work was installed for anyone’s enjoyment. When we traveled from Tortola to Georgia through Miami Airport, there were large blank walls I visualized enlarged photos of past travelers in the 1950s and the 1960s. Travelers wore formal outfits – suits or dresses, hats and gloves for women; men wore suits with ties and hats.  Traveling was an occasion and people appeared to respect one another via how they presented themselves. There were no hairy feet in noisy shoes or zorries, no bared bellies, the stuff people should keep in their homes, hidden from the world.

JFK Airport

The art shows the past of places, people and cultures. They also tell viewers what the future can be. The energy of the art affects the people in the space that it occupies. People may glimpse murals, three-dimensional installations, and experience them.  They exist for those who appreciate them. They are there to be ignored by those who are indifferent to it.  The potential to connect people is an opportunity to expose artists of all media within a community.  Some spaces already lend themselves to display art work. Bars; restaurants; offices, and building lobbies bring color and subjects, however temporary into people’s views.  If taking another person, take them to many places with different kinds of art. Some may be experienced en route between sites like street art and murals. The last place to take them should all else fail, is to lunch with coloring place mats and crayons. 

New York City Transit Authority subway

Lovely gallery en route to public restrooms and offices




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Looking West on Drake's Highway, Tortola towards the Caribbean Sea by Allison L. Williams Hill

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