Civic Engagement

The Office of Public Art believes deeply in the transformative power of collaboration between artists and communities. Like our Artist Residencies, our Civic Engagement projects are grounded in equity and social justice and center collaborations with communities that have been historically marginalized and underrepresented in civic processes. Each project is focused on a social need or cultural issue, and grows from close collaboration with one or more communities.

In our practices, artists and communities partner and move through the stages of stakeholder engagement, conceptual design, and final design and implementation together. In the end, each collaboration produces a temporary work of public art that can range from physical installation to social engagement, depending on the artist’s vision, the project’s parameters, and the needs of their community partners.

Civic Engagement Projects

Artists Bridging Social Distance in the Public Realm

OPA launched the Artists Bridging Social Distance in the Public Realm initiative as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative sought to support artists at a time of critical need, when social distancing was causing widespread isolation and creative projects were being canceled or indefinitely postponed.

There Are Black People In The Future Artwork-in-Residence

Eleven artists and educators explore the meaning and relevance of artist Alisha B. Wormsley’s text, “There Are Black People In The Future,” across media and disciplines.

Environment, Health, and Public Art Initiative

Through this initiative, three artists—Ginger Brooks Takahashi, Aaron Henderson, and Mary Tremonte—are collaborating with Pittsburgh-area organizations to create three works of temporary public art. These artworks address several distinct yet intersecting issues of environmental health: water pollution, air pollution, and lead toxicity in the soil.

Public Art and Communities Program

This program supports the development of place-based strategies and temporary artworks in Pittsburgh communities that respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and address its intersection with other public health issues.

Image credits

Top to bottom, left to right:
(1) Installation of Homecoming: Hill District, USA by artist Njaimeh Njie, photo by OPA; (2) Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA; (3) Visitor to The Quarantine Companion, photo courtesy Sculpture Support System; (4) “Viewfinder: Before the stream was made underground/ Workers line the completed sides of the Nine Mile Run trench with liner plate, May 21, 1931,” original photo by Pittsburgh City Photographer, image courtesy artist Ginger Brooks Takahashi; (5) Terri Baltimore leads tour of historic Hill District, photo by OPA; (6) There Are Black People in the Future by artist Alisha B. Wormsley installed as part of artist Jon Rubin’s The Last Billboard project in East Liberty, photo by Jon Rubin.