Public Art Makes Campus More Vibrant

Ann E. Cudd and Greg Scott speaking outsideOn Thursday, Jan. 30, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd and Senior Vice Chancellor for Business and Operations Greg Scott stood in the thruway between Posvar Hall, Hillman Library and the Barco Law Building to announce the Art on Campus initiative.

“Public art makes the campus a more vibrant place to visit, and special for visitors, faculty, staff and students,” said Cudd.

Behind them stood Tony Smith’s steel sculpture “Light Up,” its vibrant yellow color a bold contrast to the gray, Brutalist-style architecture surrounding it. The much-recognized piece of public art was a picture-perfect backdrop for the initiative’s announcement, part of the University’s Year of Creativity.

Art’s first steps

Art on Campus aims to audit and catalog the public art at the University’s Pittsburgh campus, and is the first major step to producing a complete inventory of artworks owned by the University. Its work will lay the foundation for harnessing Pitt’s art collections and works toward supporting the University’s strategic goal of strengthening communities

“We all know that public art matters to our community, providing social and cultural value,” said Scott. “Together we will advance the University of Pittsburgh as a destination for the world to see, demonstrating our continued commitment to the arts.”

The first step in the initiative is to create a data collection methodology and apply it to several sites on Pitt’s main campus, including Alumni Hall and Mervis Hall. This work includes establishing best practices for collecting data on artworks, including origin, condition and other factors, and present findings to the public.

During the first phase, special attention will be placed on assessing and cataloging artworks in outdoor spaces and producing a benchmarking study for the development of a public art plan at Pitt. 

The Public Art Steering Committee includes members of the Office of the ProvostUniversity Library System and Department of History of Art and Architecture.

Together, they will guide a strategic approach to the development of a public art environment on campus and advance the goals of the overall initiative. Included in their oversight during future phases will be recommending the purchase or commissioning of new works, acceptance of donated works and determination of the location of works for installation on campus.

“This committee’s passion and strong expertise will help us move great ideas forward,” said Cudd. “I can't wait to see the impact that it's going to have on that community and the artists … on campus and really in the city as a whole.”