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Role of Public Art in an Urban Environment

Saturday, March 30, 2019

By Vibhor Sogani

Art has the power to connect people from different backgrounds and generations. Public art plays a major role in shaping urban neighbourhoods, boosting a sense of community and bringing people together. Each city has a unique style characterized by its geographical location and natural environment. Public art can provide a new way to experience a city.

Cities gain social, economic and cultural value through public art displays. Art is a strong medium to propagate or spread a message, it holds the power of creatively and aesthetically express a cause, value, issue that a society stands for. Placed in public sites this artwork is accessible to everyone and helps in forming a collective community expression. It reflects upon who we are as a city and what we like to be surrounded with.

Along with a strong social relevance, public art adds enormous value to the cultural beliefs of a community. Not only does it enliven the physical environment and the cityscape, but since the sculpture, statue, installation is on display every day, it naturally gains recognition and cultural relevance while engendering community pride.

While Public art might look like a heavy expenditure it is rather an investment for the future. By engaging in public art as a tool for economic growth and sustainability, communities benefit financially. Public art provides professional opportunities to budding artists and cultivates an environment which is more conducive to the city’s development. It also acts as a catalyst to economic success while giving a boost to the tourism sector.

Public art induces imagination and activates people to pay attention and perceive the environment they occupy more deeply. Permanent installations imbue a space with character and can become iconic symbols of a city.These do not only make a space look alive but also boosts emotion amongst the viewers. It beautifies a bland and monotonous space while also influencing how we see, feel or think. As citizens we identify with places and remember cities that have their own icons and landmarks.

It is encouraging to see that there is progress in attempts to engage with public art projects. The approach of building an identity for the city is now being recognised by the government with more emphasis on the arts and culture industry. Artists are gradually gaining professional and social recognition for their contribution to the economy. With the plethora of never ending artists and massive creative talent, there is great scope of opportunity to creating more public artworks. Cities that have an active and dynamic art scene are more attractive to individuals and business helping them build a strong image for a city. It is therefore, incumbent on us as a society to encourage public art installations, sculptures, murals, and similar initiatives, while also being responsible about their outreach and impact on citizens.

The author is a globally acclaimed Indian artist.

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