A discussion on the nature and purpose of public art, and the role of community engagement in its development. This conversation features two artists, Steve Locke and Wang Xu, who have each had public art proposals criticized by local communities and/or government agencies and have gone on to create new works about their experiences with the public art approval process.
Moderating this panel is artist Ken Lum, who is the co-founder of Monument Lab, an independent public art and history studio based in Philadelphia that works with artists, students, activists, municipal agencies, and cultural institutions on exploratory approaches to public engagement and collective memory. By focusing on two examples and the experience of two artists working on opposite coasts, we hope to create space for nuanced reflections on the layered issues that these kinds of projects present, both now and into the future.
Steve Locke (b. 1963, Cleveland, OH) is a New York-based artist, raised in Detroit, Michigan. He received his M.F.A. in 2001 from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in 2002. He has had residencies with the City of Boston (2018), the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (2016), and The MacDowell Colony (2015). He has received grants from Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and Art Matters Foundation. He has had solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Locke has done projects with ForFreedoms, Kickstarter, the Boston Public Library, the Gardner Museum, and P.S. Satellites/Prospect IV in New Orleans and has had gallery exhibitions with yours mine & ours, Samsøñ, Gallery Kayafas, and Mendes Wood. He is currently a Professor at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
Wang Xu (b. 1986, Dalian, China) works predominantly in sculpture and video installation. For Wang, sculpture occupies an ambiguous space between objects, experience, and social practice, mediated by time and personal memories. Wang’s exhibitions include Overtime Gift, 47 Canal, New York (2019); Garden of Seasons, Vincent Price Art Museum, Los Angeles (2018); Shanghai Project, Shanghai Himalayas Museum, Shanghai (2017); A Frame Apart, Queens International 2016 Short Film Program, Queens Museum, New York (2016); In Response: Repetition and Difference, Jewish Museum, New York (2015); and Under Foundations, Sculpture Center, Long Island City, New York (2015). Wang holds a BFA from Central Academy of Fine Arts Beijing and an MFA from Columbia University.
Ken Lum is known for his conceptual and representational art in a number of media, including painting, sculpture, and photography. He currently is the Chair of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design in Philadelphia. A co-founder and founding editor of Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, he is a prolific writer with numerous published articles, catalog essays, and juried papers. In 2000, he worked as co-editor of the Shanghai Biennale. In 2012, Ken founded Monument Lab with Paul Farber, an independent public art and history studio based in Philadelphia that works with artists, students, activists, municipal agencies, and cultural institutions on exploratory approaches to public engagement and collective memory. Monument Lab cultivates and facilitates critical conversations around the past, present, and future of monuments.