Courtesy of Marcia Scott / THE REVIEW
Jillian Cullen and Allison Michalowski, both public administration fellows doing research for the Complete Communities team, embarked on a research project to create a map documenting the locations, descriptions, and photos of works of art in public spaces in Newark and on the university campus should.
Cullen said that the two realized that it seemed necessary to keep an eye on all the various works of art around Newark and the university campus, and they soon realized that many of them were missing a story.
“When we did some preliminary research, we found that many places didn’t even know where these works of art came from, or why they came here, or what they represented, so we just knew we had to keep track of these works of art in our community,” said Cullen.
Prior to this research, Cullen said she ran a place making project, which is the concept of creating a place where people want to work, live and play. Cullen said this “Place Making” project was a big part of her inspiration as public art was a part of the concept itself.
The map shows more than 100 works of art, for which Cullen and Michalowski gathered the information primarily through research on each specific piece and information from professionals in the art field.
“Our stakeholders gave us a list of public art they knew about, but then me and Allie, the other public administration colleague, just went out and went to different buildings or areas and whenever I saw a work of art I would do it, just put it there in the app, take a photo and get the geocoordinates and then any other identifying information, ”said Cullen.
About two weeks after Cullen started the project, COVID-19 hit and presented some roadblocks to the team.
“In addition to not getting as much public engagement as we expected, we figured this wouldn’t be the last time we first went out,” said Cullen. “When we took the photos indoors, there was some glare or we couldn’t get the best possible picture, and when COVID hit we couldn’t go inside because indoor spaces were closed, especially on campus.”
For some of the photos on the card there is a placeholder that says “Image is coming soon”. Marcia Scott, the leader of the Complete Communities team, said they hope to return to campus after the opening and make some changes to the map.
Cullen said she believed that art is so important in public space because it creates a community character, and that it is extremely important to the concept of place making.
“It just makes a place to be proud of and a place that people want to go, see and experience,” said Cullen. “That’s why I find it incredibly important, and I also think that we need to document them so that we know why they are there and what purpose they serve and what they represent.”
Cullen also said she hopes this project will inspire other cities – in Delaware or across the country – to do the same, and that she hopes this will educate the community that it is so important to preserve public art and to maintain.
Newark Mayor Jerry Clifton said this project has a tremendous ability to raise awareness of the amount of art in Newark and that it will draw people where the art is.
“I was [in Newark] for nearly 30 years, and if I had to tell someone where everything they care about is from an artistic point of view, I’d do it hard, ”said Clifton. “These [map] brings everything under one roof and leads people to where they need to be. I think even people like me who have been here for decades will be quite surprised to see where some of the murals and other interesting items are. “
Clifton also said the card will help economically because when people are out it encourages other purchases, such as shopping. B. to eat among other things. Clifton also said that a tour of Newark’s art would be a great weekend activity.
Courtesy Marcia Scott / THE REVIEW
“On a quiet weekend day, it would be great if people go out and see what Newark has to offer, and I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised,” said Clifton. “I think you will find a day that is very enjoyable, fulfilling, and rewarding.”
Wendy Bellion, a professor of art history at the university, said she thinks the card is an incredible public service and resource, and she hopes it can be expanded to New Castle County or even the state of Delaware.
“As far as I know, this is the first attempt to digitally and publicly map sculptures, murals, etc., within the city of Newark, so I think it is a truly commendable attempt,” said Bellion. “I think this type of project will interest not only students and members of the University of Delaware, but members of the community, whether they are new to Newark or whether they have been here a long time and are still discovering parts of their city.”
Bellion also said that public art itself is an extremely important part of any community, as it not only beautifies a community but also creates a myriad of possibilities.
“I think it provides the opportunity for many different voices in each community to contribute to the creation of a community’s culture, and I think it is important that any public arts program represent a variety of voices in terms of artists hired to do the work and the kind of work we see in public, ”said Bellion.
Bellion said when she was teaching a sculpture class a few years ago, she had her students give presentations in front of some of the sculptures shown on the card. Bellion also said that when her students gave these presentations, strangers would pass by to listen, an example of the impact of public art.
“They give us these moments when we pause, talk, reflect together and provide a space to reflect,” said Bellion. “I think there are a lot of sculptures on campus, some in remote locations, but others are on display very prominently and, for example, many sculptures that are in the immediate vicinity of the Morris Library. They provide an opportunity for all of us to slow down and think about these objects in our midst. So they can be spaces for personal reflection, but also for community activities. “
You can find the tour here.