“Two women meander through a college campus wearing a knit garment that connects them via one long sleeve. Posters with an oblique message (”I will help”) are posted on a telephone pole outside a grocery store. Scientists, doctors, and students publicly debate the effects of smart drugs. These diverse examples—by Lindsay Obermeyer, the collaborative duo Let’s Re-Make, and Adrienne Outlaw, respectively—were commissioned as part of Nashville Cultural Art Project’s year-long series Art Makes Place. Art Makes Place brought together six different works that involved people throughout the city in somewhat unexpected places (on the street, in schools, on the internet, in a medical center, etc.) and culminated in an exhibition at the Nashville Public Library. Most were somewhat ephemeral gestures, fleeting interventions that may or may not have gone noticed or recognized as art—including a chalk mural by Michael Cooper that was washed away in the rain, digital screens displaying stories of those living with the memory-loss disorder aphasia (is it a memory-loss disorder?) by Bonnie Fortune, and temporary installations of moveable, brightly colored stoops-on-wheels by Mike Calway-Fagen. What might the value be of this public art? … It is impossible to quantitatively assess the value of projects such as Art Makes Place, how many people the project “benefited,” or even what we might consider these benefits to be. The series might not have been seen by the mythic 100,000 people listed on the proposal, but it importantly brought artists into classes to prompt discussions amongst students about topics such as sustainability and activism; it staged creative acts and conversations in unlikely sites; it hosted a diverse series of public programs and projects. These outcomes are intangible and cannot be reduced to a box on a form—but they matter, too.” — Exerpt from Julia Bryan Wilson’s Civic Lessons: The Value of Public Art for the AMP catalog, 2010
“The field of art as it functions today has evolved far beyond talk of painting, sculpture, or even installation. It has become an arena of action, an arena in which experimentation on almost every level and in any subject is permissible. It is a place where we can test the limits of society, of ourselves, and of the systems we’ve created. If you look at the past century, you’ll see that developments in the arts have consistently catapulted the world into modernity, for better or worse. … artists today are breaking out of a discourse on formal aesthetics and using art as an arena for social exchange … These artists are literally on the cultural vanguard. They are expanding inherited ideas of what is socially acceptable, or at least what constitutes the norm. In a world in which the links between social trends or values and politics and economy are enmeshed with each other, cultural producers who question and pry those very social values are fighting on the cultural battleground. Like soldiers, artists engaging directly with people require bravery as they have potential to either be misunderstood or to fail, or both.” –Excerpt from Chen Tamir’s “Community Outpost” and Other Works on the Vanguard for for the AMP catalog, 2010
In an effort to encourage partnerships between artists and the public, I launched ART MAKES PLACE, a year-long project that placed temporary, community and performance-based artworks in public spaces throughout Nashville. Each project started with a meeting with the community and was realized with participation from students and community members. It culminated in a public exhibition and a 62 page catalog with seven critical essays. As part of the project I contributed The Enhancer Project.