Public Art Serves to Bridge Communities

Shannon Hoyt-

Artist Erwin Redl, who recently made his way to the University of Wisconsin-Stout, says that public art is an aesthetic that bridges generational, ethnic, religious, educational and social gaps within societies. These constructs are built to evoke emotion, ask questions, spark curiosities and add exquisite tastes to each community. So yes, they are more than just Pokemon Go stops.

Redl is well-known for many of his electronic installations, including the Spartanburg project (link below), which was a prime example for his presentation, “Building Community Through Public Art,” which took place at our university in late February. His message, encouraged by UW–Stout staff, spoke of public art as a necessity for community relations.

“There absolutely is a need for this specific creativity. Even for people who are normally not exposed to art, seeing an unexpected sculpture, painting or any manifest creativity, it at least provokes a little ‘hiccup,’ or in many cases invokes a new kind of thinking and understanding of the world,” added Redl.  

In correspondence to the importance of public art and Redl’s views, Joshua Wilichowski, professor for the School of Art and Design, is well-seasoned in the public art scene. He also has a strong desire to see these constructs continue to grace communities like Menomonie.

Wilichowski reflects on his experiences, noting, “[Public art] gives you something to talk about, and opens up avenues of conversation not only between the artist and the public, but the public themselves.”

The finished constructs are an extension of those who’ve dedicated hours to ideation, collaboration, construction and installation. This process can be admired throughout campus grounds: the Bell Monument, Borderline, Woodland Spear and Sentinel.

Redl finished: “Art is an absolute necessity for a functioning society. I can’t imagine any society, past or present, that somehow didn’t strive for beauty in a broader community context.”

For more information on the Spartanburg project, visit: http://seeingspartanburg.com/