Author ORCID Identifier

http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7659-5571

Degree Year

2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Environmental Studies

Advisor(s)

Rumi Shammin

Committee Member(s)

Karl Offen

Keywords

Public art, Environmental art, Sense of place, Art evaluation, Pottery, Oberlin, OH, Site-specific art

Abstract

Public art has the potential to influence people’s sense of place and inspire environmental stewardship. By visiting existing public art, conducting a literature review, and creating a piece of public environmental art in an outdoor space in Oberlin, Ohio, I aim to learn how site-specific public art influences notions of place. Making connections between artworks that I have visited, public art projects that I studied and my own installation of public art, Hanging Leaves, allows me to place my art in a greater design context. I installed a collaborative, site specific piece of artwork in a public outdoor area in Oberlin, Ohio. This subtle installation of hanging clay leaves in a well-trafficked public courtyard responds to the seasons and a place-based environmental consciousness. When I made the leaves, they evoked the falling leaves of autumn and the changing seasons to winter, but their meaning shifted when the artwork was finally installed in February, and their meanings varied for the range of people who experienced the art.

Over the installation period, I conducted surveys and observed public behavior in relation to Hanging Leaves. By analyzing people’s responses to the artwork through four methods of analysis (descriptive, qualitative, statistical, and field observation), I explore these questions:

● How does art focused on place reflect that place and the people in it?
● How does public art (re)connect people to their place?
● What role does public art play in engaging a wide range of people?

The artwork’s interaction with weather and seasons prompts people to interact with it through their different senses, and their ideas of space are intimately connected to the artwork, demonstrating the range of ways that the artwork affected their senses of place. Hanging Leaves emphasizes the existing space in new ways, and causes some visitors to think more positively of the winter space. With the evaluation of Hanging Leaves, I have learned about how public art in outdoor spaces can impact people’s perceptions of place and community, and I have explored how public art can offer new insights into placemaking in Oberlin by changing or strengthening people’s perceptions of place.

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