Process and (As) Community in Public Art: Audience Participation in Creating Art, Place and Meaning

By Kevin Todd.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Public art has the potential to create meaning and a sense of place/community for the built environment and can contribute to an enrichment of the user experience. However, there are a range of problems and opportunities associated with the expectations of client, architect, building employees and users/community. Budget and technical issues also impact on the process and it is sometimes difficult for an artist to maintain the integrity of the creative process and to satisfy competing expectations.

Using several of his public art projects in Queensland as examples, Kevin Todd will give an artist’s view of his creative engagement with audience and challenge traditional notions of art practice.
Is the traditional concept of the artist as an autonomous, creative individual useful for public art or should projects be approached and framed much like a design problem? To what extent should context shape the creative process/content and what consideration should be given to the audience (the public in public art) and the reception of the finished works? Shouldn’t successful public art essentially be local even if we sometimes frame artistic/cultural discourse as global?

The process of involving audience in the creation of artworks in an inclusive and cooperative manner will serve as a case study for creating a sense of community, meaning and ownership in relation to place. Kevin will discuss the role of public artworks in bringing a disparate audience together and the value of an inclusive creative engagement/process in creating a community through participation.

Keywords: Public Art, Art in Community, Children and Youth Audiences, Artist/Audience Boundary, Participatory Art, Global/Local Arts

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp.505-522. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.124MB).

Kevin Todd

Senior Lecturer, Art and Design, School of Communication, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia

Kevin Todd has wide-ranging experience with exhibition, public art and residencies/projects having worked in Australia, Asia, the UK, Ireland and the USA. His work has been recognised through grants from the New Media Arts Board of the Australia Council; Arts Tasmania; Arts Queensland; the Australian Network for Art and Technology; the Australian High Commission, Singapore; the Arts Council of England and The Asialink Centre at the University of Melbourne. The focus of his public art has been in developing site and context specific solutions within the parameters of project brief and budget and he has worked as both a consultant and artist on large-scale projects such as a sport stadium; technical college; hospital and community health centre. He has also worked on art projects with the Australian Antarctic Division; the Australian Museum, Sydney; Launceston General Hospital and the Australian Pulp and Paper Institute at MonashUniversity, Melbourne. Kevin was a visiting professor at the State University ofNewYork,Cortland (2001/02) and a visiting scholar at New York University (2008). More information on his work is available at;


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