Public art is a broad category that encompasses a diverse set of art forms that are displayed in the open public space. The works can aesthetically beautify the environment, educate, commemorate important events or people, act as a tool of political or social propaganda, or serve to activate and live casino document daily life. These artworks are found in multiple forms, from sculptures/statues and site specific installations to murals, architecture, graffiti, actions, interventions, land and environmental art, and performance art.
Many of the works of public art are commissioned through public art programs that are incorporated into urban development projects. The programs may be privately funded or may come from government agencies and are generally designed to fit into the cultural landscape of a particular city or community.
A growing trend in public art is to incorporate the audience into the artistic process of an installation, often through participation. This method can also allow the work to connect to local culture in a more organic way, and increase its potential for engagement.
Some of these methods involve interviews and recorded verbatim statements, allowing the artist to create a piece that is a direct reflection of a specific community. Alternatively, public participation in the form of physical interaction can be encouraged – for example, by building in musical or light-based components that respond to audience movements and sounds.
A large part of the success of any public art project is its ability to attract a wide range of audiences. This is normally achieved through a combination of the aesthetic value of the work, its relevance to the local environment, and the subject matter it addresses. In a multicultural society, public art often provokes different opinions and debate, which is a good sign that the artwork is succeeding in its goals of creating engagement and connection.
In some cases, public art can have a particularly positive impact on low-income communities and neighborhoods of color that are traditionally deprioritized for built environment enhancements. For instance, when public art is placed in areas of blight or disinvestment, residents tend to visit and enjoy the works more frequently, and can start to take ownership of the space. This can help to revitalize these neighborhoods, and encourage the stewardship of public spaces that are both safe and attractive. However, for these benefits to be realized, the implementation of public art needs to be approached carefully, with a strong focus on racial equity.