Public Art Saint Paul (PASP) initiates and fosters collaboration between artists, the community, and city-making professionals to shape the public realm. They spark imagination, explore civic values and the community’s evolving history, and strengthen Saint Paul’s public spaces as vessels of public life. Among this nonprofit’s numerous collaborations, PASP partners with the City of Saint Paul to promote its identity as a creative city.
Now ArtPlace support is expanding these relationships. After establishing the City Artist in Residence (CAIR) Program in 2005 with a single artist based in the City’s Public Works Department, PASP is now building a cohort of artists (CAIRs) immersed within a broader constellation of public agencies. The cohort plans no less than to transform how the city is experienced creatively.
ArtPlace spoke with Marcus Young, City Artist in Residence and artistic director of the program, about how his program is growing and changing the City of Saint Paul.
ARTPLACE: What do you have to do really well to achieve success with your initiative?
YOUNG: We long to do the simple things—fall in love with the city again, dream big, forget the rules, listen to our hearts, make friends, think carefully, and work hard. These things are too easily forgotten. We also remind ourselves to work slowly focusing on the accumulation of successes, not the easy fix. City art is slow art. We need to work in rhythm with the city.
We hope to change the practice of public art. We need to find additional City Artists in Residence—artists who may not know what they’re in for but have both great civic aspiration and the means to create beautiful work. We need to support them as they work far upstream and collaboratively with their fellow professional city-makers, immersed in and integrated with the city-making process.
ARTPLACE: How do you expect the community to change as a result?
YOUNG: Change will happen deeply, on the cellular level of the city-body, or in the way that acupuncture heals, or at the crossroads of our senses and wishing. I will look to others to assess change with facts and indices. I am concerned with how we practice and experience change, how creative placemaking is the possibility of new behavioral forms. With time, we want to create art forms that show how the personal and collective sustaining of life, our daily living, is the great masterpiece of our times.
IMAGE: Photo by Andy King of "Wishes for the Sky", a work of behavioral art that emphasizes collective wishing, held annually on Earth Day.