American Artist Mark Dion to Hold Public Lecture on Campus and Discuss Public Art Partnership
Lecture to be held Monday, Nov. 29Tuesday, November 23, 2010
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Artist Mark Dion will be among the first visiting artists invited to campus by the University of Arkansas Public Art Oversight Advisory Committee. Dion is best known for making art out of fieldwork, incorporating elements of biology, archaeology, ethnography and the history of science, and applying to his artwork methodologies generally used for pure science. He is widely recognized for the scientific presentations of installation art.
As part of the campus visit, Dion will hold a public lecture at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 29, in Giffels Auditorium in Old Main.
Dion has received numerous awards, including the ninth annual Larry Aldrich Foundation Award. He has had major exhibitions at the Miami Art Museum; the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, Conn.; and the Tate Gallery in London. Neukom Vivarium, a permanent outdoor installation and learning lab for the Olympic Sculpture Park, was commissioned by the Seattle Art Museum. Dion lives and works in Pennsylvania.
In 2009, Chancellor Dave Gearhart formed the Public Art Oversight Advisory Committee, charged with increasing the amount of art on the University of Arkansas campus that is available for public enjoyment. Dion was a unanimous top choice of the committee volunteers.
Before decisions are made on commissioning artists, the artists will tour the campus and surrounding areas and discuss specific sites under consideration for new pieces of art. If the committee and the artist see the relationship as a mutually beneficial one, the project will begin.
What’s unique about this process is that each selected artist will create his or her work while on campus. Students will get involved, and the campus can witness the artist’s inspirational work and originality in real time. There is the potential for some curriculum decisions to be built around the visiting artist as well. It is a rare opportunity that will impact the campus long before the work is complete and prepared for public enjoyment.
“Art should be accessible,” said Bethany Springer, assistant professor of art in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the committee. “We want all students — not just those majoring in art-related fields — to have positive experiences with public art. And the more the community can claim ownership of art on our campus and feel involved in the process, the more impact it will have. We want everyone on- and off-campus to play a role.”
Another interesting point about the process of commissioning artists for this initiative is the expectation that the artwork be site-specific. That is, the art should reflect northwest Arkansas or the University of Arkansas, and it should resonate with local audiences as well as with visitors to the area.
“The importance of arts and culture in our area is not as widely understood as we would like for it to be,” said Jeannie Hulen, chair of the art department and a member of the committee. “Our community has grown significantly, and the cultural aspects of the area have not grown at the same pace. The work of this committee provides an opportunity for growth, and we hope the broader community appreciates the outcome.”
The committee will work together to identify other leading artists who may fit the future goals for public art at the University of Arkansas.
Danielle Strickland, director of development communications
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