Public Art for Social Change

Published: April 3, 2014

This winter, students in Carrie Bodle’s Art and Public Space and Gary Carpenter’s Public Art and Social Change had the opportunity to leave their mark on the UW Bothell.

“We collaborated with 4Culture and artist Kristen Ramirez to explore the possibilities for initiatives for two tunnels/underpasses on the Burke-Gilman bike trail in Kenmore,” Bodle explains. “This was a wonderful experience for the students to actively participate in current public art projects and to build knowledge pathways between UW Bothell and the surrounding communities.”

Throughout Bodle’s course students visited multiple public art sites and were encouraged to consider art and public perception. Students were also tasked with developing a proposal that included a visual model, materials, and costs required to complete the project.

The students who participated had a variety of arts experience, including Venus Solis, who had spent several years in art school and wanted to expand her understanding of public art. “I learned the extensive process artists will go through to get their work out there to the world,” says Solis. “It takes a lot of patience, flexibility and creativity to get your piece to the public.”

Carpenter’s course asked students to create a public art proposal that would demonstrate a connection between social equality and environmental sustainability.

“This was a challenging project that required research into a wide range of disciplines and development of student’s creative capabilities,” says Carpenter. “They met that challenge by developing strong conceptual works with social impact.”

Jodene Hager’s proposal entitled “Equals”, focuses on the structural injustices against minority populations and the parallels between these injustices and environmental degradation.

“This was my first art class ever, so I was overdue for one. I enjoy doing some hobby painting on the side, but I never took a class to learn it from a professional. The topic for the art class was right up my alley with environmental health and social change as the focus,” Hager explains. “This class can be singularly responsible for giving me the confidence to be the artist I did not realize I was! Now that I have taken this class, I am interested in trying my hand at some real public art calls in the future.”

These courses are part of UW Bothell’s long held commitment to artistic development and unconventional approaches to social and environmental issues. To see more proposals from Carpenter’s course, click here.