In 2017, the city of Charleston developed the Office of Public Art as a result of a 2012 public art study through a National Endowment for the Arts grant. The role of COPA is to serve as a resource for the creation, education and conservation of public art in Charleston.
Public art helps make communities around the world better places to live, work and visit. And that’s a good thing, because we have an abundance of it here in Charleston. But, what exactly is public art and what is its impact on our communities? Just look around!
Public art surrounds us, and has for centuries, through monuments, murals and functional works of art. In prehistoric days, early cave paintings and etchings told stories about what was happening in the community and became cultural representations of the time period.
Throughout history, public art has provided a platform to tell our “stories.” You can better understand virtually any culture by looking at the art that was created in a particular time period.
Public art brings a vitality to a community that can elevate the way we think about art and the impact it can have on our lives.
Public art doesn’t just tell a story, it also gives a community vibrance by enhancing physical environments with murals and unique sculptures. Public art can be a tool for community engagement and pride. It brings more opportunities to artists, engages student learning and helps to raise public awareness on community and social issues.
Most importantly, public art is accessible to everyone. There’s no admissions fee.
You don’t need a fine arts degree to appreciate it. It’s just there for you, whoever you are, to see, to enjoy, to absorb.
If you haven’t had a chance to visit each and every one of Charleston’s works of public art, perhaps the map here will provide some inspiration. There are literally dozens of opportunities all over town.