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Placemaking Network: The Process of Art in Architecture

Placemaking MAY 2019

Image: Cathering Widgery – Ogden Juvenile Courthouse, Ogden Utah, Sky Veil, dichroic glass and steel, 2015

  • COST

    Free and open to the public

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Over the past decades public artist Catherine Widgery has witnessed how the very idea of public art has been evolving. There has been a flowering of integrated art projects and a general recognition of the increased value brought by the inclusion of public art in any new construction project. Today commissions are often the product of a collaboration between the artist and design teams made up of architects, designers, technology experts and stakeholders as well as members of the community. All this requires skills and facilities very different from the traditional artist's role of working alone in a studio. Artworks are often interactive, using new technologies, materials and complex fabrication processes and the lines between artists, designers and architects has blurred.

How is this changing the art? What are the risks and benefits? Catherine will speak to the way the current trends in public art have meant it is increasingly integrated into fabric of the built environment. We’ll discuss the way the computer is influencing both the design and production of artworks and the unique value that an artist’s intuitive approach can bring to sites and buildings. Examples of how the early involvement of artists on design teams can steer architectural projects in surprising ways will be part of the conversation.

BSA Placemaking Network meetings are held at 290 Congress St., Suite 200 in Boston. We offer an informal, interactive environment, usually with pizza and libations. AIA continuing education credits are offered.

Catherine Widgery’s practice of creating site-specific art works for the public realm spans 35 years and more than 50 works installed in the public realm. ‘Give the viewer something unexpected or intriguing and help them come alive to their surroundings.’ Mystery, ambiguity and changeability engage the viewer. The narrative is metaphorical so interpretation resides within the participant. The artwork exists as shimmering light and movement in a shifting environment of light and color. Permeable, dematerialized, appearing and disappearing, her works are never the same since it is changing light and the viewer’s participation that determines the art in any given moment. In addition to numerous solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums and many site-specific public art projects, her award winning artworks have been featured on the covers of Sculpture, Landscape Architecture, Espace and World Sculpture News magazines. Her particular interest and strength is working with communities and teams to create environmental sculptural experiences that respond to the unique spirit, shape and function of a place.

1.5 LU AIA credits are available.

To learn more about the Placemaking Network, visit