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Public art is a term used to denote the works of art in any media that has been planned and executed with particular intention of being cited in the physical public place that is accessible to all. The significance is usually important in the art world to the curators, bodies of commissioning and also the public art practitioners. It is sometimes used to imply any art that is exhibited in the public space that included even the buildings that are accessible to the public. Monuments, civic statuaries and even memorial statuaries are the commonly known form of public art. Street furniture, graffiti, lighting can also be included as the new entrants as form of public art. These sculptures that are intended for public are always constructed durably and easily cared materials to avoid acts of vandalism from rogues.
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Just as many aspects of the public issues, public art has proved very controversial in some cases and this is due to several factors. The desire of the public to provoke an entity, the different nature of the public exposed to the art, issues of misappropriation of public funds, resources, safety and even spaces. Richard Serra’s piece that was known as the tilted arc was removed from a certain New York City Plaza back in 1989 because office workers raised issues that their routine of work was interfered with by the piece. It was removed due to the court orders that favored the workers against continued display of the work. John Ahearn installed three bronze sculptures on a plaza in front of the Police precinct House in Bronx. The eagerness of all those that were involved was unquestionable since it had been in the pipeline for many years that involved bureaucracies and delays of construction.
Due to the respect that was given to Ahearn as an artist, and the community support that he enjoyed from the public, the commission had no fears for choosing such kind of a man. The commission made the public believes that there would be no problem though people were skeptical about the police loving that work. The considerable community support was to cover up this. The installation of these bronzes led to an outrage that dominated the papers and news channels that was even later published in a book. The commission ws not in error because they hinged their trust on Ahearn who was well known and would lead to something so controversial considering that barely two years before that the tilted arc had also led to controversy and was not expected to happen again.
These sculptures should have not been removed because it is normal for something especially open to the public would not be loved or hated by all. The removal of these sculptures was wrong and they should have stayed their site because there were obviously many people who loved them and did not mind there staying in the public. As much as it could have caused disquiet among the public who did not love them, all that could have died down and the magnificence of these works could have still been there for the public to enjoy and the world to see. Work of art is very unique because it is open to diverse interpretations thus many people could have based their hatred on wrong perception thus the removal of the sculptures.
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Racial tag that was put on the work of Ahearn was very wrong as it infringed on the freedom of artists to express them freely without fear of being victimized on wrong perception as Ahearn was. Many people considered this work as pure racial as the identity of the artist who was white. Just as usual, the identity of the designer of these three bronzes was never mentioned because he was Latino, a fact that would put the race issue into doubt. It is normal that people always want something to blame and they found it pure and simple on race. New York post headline fuelled this war as it once read ‘the quintessential signifier of what oppression means in the United States, Black’. The word oppression on the New York post was deemed to mean black in general. It is interesting that even the sculptures did not even depict only the American blacks but it was automatically taken to mean anti-black.
Apart from the effects of the outrage to the freedom of artist, these sculptures simply fuelled the ever existing racism in the United States thanks to the media. The artists were no longer free to figuratively portray and individual artistically lest they be misjudged and victimized and even termed as racists. Apart from the views of other people that the sculppture was sinister and criminal did not take into account the figure of Daleesha, a girl on skates. The appearance of a hooded youth kneeling next to a pit bull and the image of a basketball player with a boom box had the residents and the cops I conflict. It is believed that the discussion was of the black male because the image of Daleesha was invisible mostly in the sculpture. Even the police in Bronx felt so as they said that they spend so much time trying to bridge their differences with the black community whereas the artwork comes in to jeopardize their efforts. They were already poisoned in the mind to believe that the artwork was racially instigated.
The notion out there means that when those artworks were removed from their sites, they were failures, a fact that would have a detrimental effect on other artists. No artist would like to be in conflict with their pieces of work therefore this has surely drove them under even those who had wonderful ideas f art but could not release them for fear of being misjudged. This has restricted the work of art to enclosed places that are not open to the public thus denying the public the chance to experience these marvelous pieces of skills. Many artists restrain their work indoors in fear of public misunderstanding. Like mentioned earlier, a piece of art needle deeper understanding and interpretation therefore take literally, it could mean anything to the public and fuel an unpleasant debate. The tensions this cause to the different races in United States is insurmountable even as efforts are being pumped to free America from the shackles of racism.
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These sculptures fitted precisely in the canon of art in that they depicted what really goes on in the society and cultural happening that mostly people like to avoid or turn a blind eye to. The genuineness of the art cannot be questioned only that human beings are fond of not admitting what really goes on in the society and always looking for something to blame. The tilted arc and the three bronzes were very accurate in what they were portraying, a fact that did not go well with a section of the public and authorities thus further sweeping the pressing issues of race and class under the carpet when they should be exposed and dealt with openly.
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