Submitted nomination by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, USA
We are glad to share the nomination by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, USA to the CIMAM Outstanding Museum Practice in Time of Global Crisis program.
The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, is the only art museum in the United States that manages a robust public art program in collaboration with our host city (City of Buffalo) and host county (Country of Erie). In 2014, we became the first US museum to establish a Public Art Department. The department works in close collaboration with other museum departments and many community partners. It employs 3 curators who work closely with artists from across the world.
Public Art Initiative (PAI)
The purpose of the Public Art Initiative (PAI) at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is to integrate a wide range of artwork into publicly accessible spaces in our community and to reflect, honor, and expand the diversity of the region’s artists, artistic disciplines, and cultural points of view. The goal is to facilitate and elevate public awareness, engagement, and understanding of contemporary cultural objects, and to enhance the many facets of art in the daily lives of residents and visitors. We believe in the value of art that is generous in spirit, conceptually affirmative, and participatory in format. Since its inception in 2014, the PAI has provided the public with engaging, interactive, and community-based artwork that creates a sense of joy, discovery, and re-discovery. The public/private partnerships established to support the PAI are unique among American Museums and the Albright-Knox is a pioneering institution in the realm of public art production for civic and regional spaces in the United States.
One of the many joys of producing works in public spaces, especially murals, is that the public can witness the production process from start to finish. Often members of the community have been involved in conversations about the content of the work itself, and many times they have the joy of speaking directly with the artist, sharing their enthusiasm about the great work that adorns their shared landscape.
As the Public Art team at the Albright-Knox responds to the COVID-19 crisis and our community practices social distancing, producing collaborative works in public spaces has become a challenge. In response, we have developed a new project called Works, From Home that utilizes readily available materials to highlight a broad range of artistic talent in Western New York.
This project engages sixteen artists in Erie County to collectively produce a physical mural. Each artist will work in their own space with materials provided by the Albright-Knox. The PAI assembled small kits containing a cache of mural supplies from our inventory including modestly sized, precut sections of primed material called polytab and high-pigment, UV-resistant acrylic paints. Polytab is a material that, once painted with acrylics, can be adhered to a wall using a clear acrylic gel, creating a very resilient mural. The Public Art Initiative has previously used this method in the creation of Betsy Casañas’s Homeland mural on Niagara Street and the Fillmore Avenue Welcome Wall by Keir Johnston and Ernel Martínez.
Artists often have an uncanny ability to channel an era, a cultural zeitgeist, and visionary truths in times like these. In response to Covid-19, we hope this project will continue this creative tradition by using our resources to help local artists produce timely work. Public art is often about community, and in this time of social distancing being a truly engaged and active member of our community means staying apart from one another. This does not mean that we are no longer community, however. We still stand united and recognize our social responsibility to each other and to our collective creative culture. Our artists will document their studio process as they each develop their individual sections that will be assembled when we can all safely come together. As each artist’s work evolves and as the collective work continues to take shape, we look forward to sharing the progress with you.
Artists include: Obsidian Bellis, Julia Bottoms, Tricia Butski, Fotini Galanes, Jay P Hawkins Sr., Ashley Johnson, Jon Mirro, MJ Myers, Sarah Myers, Karle Norman, Omniprism, Chris Piontkowski, Jennifer Ryan, Jason Seeley, Rachel Shelton, and Adam Weekley.
Links to the institution website as relevant support material:
- Additional information about the Albright-Knox’s Public Art Initiative can be found on our website: https://www.albrightknox.org/community/ak-public-art
- Director of the Nasher Sculpture Center Jeremy Strick called out the Albright-Knox’s Public Art Initiative in an Artnet News article, published today, as a novel way to connect art and people during and after COVID-19: https://news.artnet.com/opinion/new-deal-art-may-unrealistic-create-public-art-1850631
- As museums all over the world have had to close their doors due to COVID-19, public art offers a wonderful way for museums to stay connected and enables them to create new and dynamic spaces for dialogue, participation, and interaction. Public Art invites people to engage with art in new and exciting ways even when we are required to socially distance ourselves.
- This video blog, published on May 1, 2020, offers a further description of our initiative, which has during the past seven years become one of our flagship programs and a model for such initiatives in a museum context: Albright-Knox Director's Vlog #5