How is public art selected?
Public art selection processes
Public art is added to communities to represent the community’s values, goals, and/or history. Public art also adds vibrancy and character to a town. Often times when public art is being commissioned, an RFP will be created to solicit artists to submit their ideas for the piece. Typically those ideas will then be evaluated and judged by a committee or community group to determine which ideas will move forward with the process. What criteria is used when the ideas are reviewed? These criteria vary from community to community, city to city, or project to project.
The City of Orlando lists 8 criteria of which submissions are evaluated upon for their process, one of which is representation. Their committee desires for the artwork to represent an idea that is valued among the community.
Do your research on the community to find out what makes the community special and different from any other place in the area. What is the community known for? Are they famous for a product, person, invention, resource, or event? How will you use this as inspiration for your design?
Jackson Hole makes it a priority to consider the aesthetics of the public art pieces they add to their collection. The committee desires to acquire artwork that is of high quality in regards to the timelessness of its vision, design, and integrity.
When designing public art, be sure to keep in mind how the piece will translate in the years to come. Also consider the environment it will live in. In the case of Jackson Hole, WY, the natural landscape grandeur of the area should be reflected in the construction quality and design of their public art collection.
City of Lancaster considers the maintenance of any new public art piece in their selection process. Many public art pieces will be part of the community for 10+ years and long-term maintenance is an important factor to consider.
Consider: What materials will be used in the piece to ensure a long-life? Has the natural environment been considered when planning the piece (salty air, dry air, lots of rain, etc)? Will these factors cause damage over time to the piece? What steps can be taken to reduce the opportunity for damage?
You may also want to check out Project for Public Spaces' detailed guidelines for reviewing public art and creating criteria for public art projects. These guidelines include many important factors to consider when placing, reviewing, and choosing public art pieces for a community.