ART AS DIALOGUE: TRICIA VAN ECK
“ART, DIALOGUE, COMMUNITY, ACTION.
These are large, messy words. But despite their ambiguities, when they intersect and interact, flames of power ignite. This power is what public art desires: to connect people—in words and in action—to something larger than themselves. This is the transformative power of art in the public realm, when individuals, despite societal divisions, connect and assert voice through art. In these moments, we are seduced into thinking that all public art catalyzes social interaction and discourse. But these moments materialize through an often quiet and slow process: meetings gathering disparate groups and individuals; facilitated discussions; and many phone calls and emails. This back-of-the-house work—marshalling people, resources, and details—may appear unrelated to art, but engaging with the public, especially since the public is not a fixed entity, is an art. While it is understood that no one artwork stands for “art,” and no one conversation defines “dialogue,” “public” is often perceived as a monolithic entity.”