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Columbia Public Art

Public Art in Columbia

One of One Columbia for Arts and Culture’s prime initiatives is Public Art. One Columbia works with the City of Columbia, community organizations, to bring public art to the community.  This is accomplished in a variety of ways. We have worked to establish a process for commissioning, acquiring, administering, maintaining, and marking public art throughout the city.  We issue Requests for Qualifications when new public art projects become available for artists submissions. You can find more about specific public art projects around the city and the region in our public art directory here. Our organization also facilitates other related projects like creative place-keeping, enhancing public spaces, and ephemeral work.

What is Public Art? 

The impulse to create art in public places is one of the things that make us human. The early concept of “art in public places,” artworks transported from the studio to the public plaza, gave way to “Public Art,” with art reinforcing a sense of place and occasion. Public art can be a freestanding object, an element integrated into the physical environment, or an ephemeral work. It can include the involvement of artists as community activists or can use various types of new media to reach a broader audience. Each of these art forms is valid and serves as a means of building community. 

Public art reflects and reveals our community, gives meaning to our civic spaces, and adds uniqueness to our environment.

Why Public Art in Columbia? 

  • Civic Pride – 70% of Americans believe that the “arts improve the image and identity” of their community.
  • Cultural Understanding – 73% of Americans agree that the arts “helped them understand other cultures better.”
  • Art Ecosystem – Public Art creates an environment that supports different types of artists and creatives. Artists and other creatives bring innovation and problem-solving to their communities which strengthens the community’s competitiveness in the market.
  • Public Health – Public Art has been shown to decrease stress and promote positive health behaviors.
  • Economic Growth and Stability – Public Art attracts and retains businesses and residents. 50% of people with college degrees between the ages of 26-57 say they would strongly consider whether a community is rich in the arts when deciding where to locate for a job.

One Columbia’s Public Art Goals 

  • Develop opportunities for emerging and local artists.
  • Commission works that represent a broad and inclusive variety of artists, media, and styles.
  • Create a collection that represents the diverse spectrum of cultural heritage, traditions, artistic expressions, and interests of the community.
  • Increase understanding within the community about the purposes and meaning of Public Art, specifically works in the collection, through art outreach education and media.
  • Make Public Art accessible to all community members.
  • Document, maintain, and conserve works of art in the collection.
  • Develop Public Art projects which enhance the visual design and visual content of the city.
  • Integrate Public Art projects into the city’s design process and include artwork and artistry in the planning and design of new and existing city buildings and structures.
  • Develop Public Art projects which will enhance community interest, tourism, and economic potential of specifically identified neighborhoods and locations.

For more information on One Columbia’s Public Art Program, please contact:

Pamela Zeljak

Public Art Administrator