LOS ANGELES — The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs on Thursday launched Reimagine Public Art, a virtual exhibition produced by DCA’s Public Art Division that highlights how artists respond to, and reimagine, Los Angeles amidst social, economic and healthcare emergencies.
In August 2020, DCA’s Public Art Division and the Los Angeles City Council designated $340,000 in Arts Development Fees to establish a Citywide COVID-19 Emergency Response Program to provide emergency economic relief to individual artists who live in Los Angeles. Out of 760 submissions, 251 local artists were selected for the initiative to examine what forms of public art can emerge from this new socially produced space.
This online public art exhibition, which includes existing and commissioned works, establishes a representation of this virtual public realm.
“As the local arts agency for the City of Los Angeles, the Department of Cultural Affairs and its dedicated staff work tirelessly to uplift the creative and cultural life of our city,” said Danielle Brazell, DCA General Manager. “Artists are the truth-tellers and cultural tradition bearers who shape our civic narrative. Artists, like every other worker in our city, have been hit both economically and socially by the public health crisis. Despite these hardships, the artists featured in this exhibition channeled their experience into dynamic artworks for the public to experience. We are extremely grateful for their contributions to the civic life of Los Angeles during the first year of COVID-19. Los Angeles would be empty without their important contributions to society.”
“Over the past year, our lives have been reconstructed. In the space of weeks, we drastically altered the ways we interact with each other and how we consume art,” said DCA Public Art Division Director Felicia Filer. “The screens on our devices have become windows into areas we used to inhabit physically. Strategically placed on our coffee tables, a desk, or just held in our hand, we collectively recreated public spaces to share an experience, or experience a semblance of human connection. Virtual public spaces have never existed or been explored on this scale.”
Reimagine Public Art was created to capture this moment and introduces a compelling lineup of artists working across all mediums to give people a glimpse of what hybrid forms public art might take once the city reopens and Angelenos begin to alternate their interactions with each other between virtual and physical public spaces.
“Whether experienced online, from a car, or in another socially distanced way, the public art produced over the past year demonstrates that change is both necessary and unstoppable,” added Ms. Filer. “Public art will continue to expand beyond its traditional forms and move forward with many new voices leading the way.”
“Through their exploration, our local community of artists created numerous outlets for collective healing, new ways of navigating the city, and moments of levity for fellow Angelenos and international connections alike, even amid their own isolation and personal difficulties,” said Ms. Brazell.
All of the artists participating in Reimagine Public Art will be included in the main online gallery space, and some have been selected to take part in Curatorial Showcases.
After reviewing the artwork submitted, DCA’s Public Art Division identified four of the most common threads that artists were using to define the following dimensions that make up this new public realm: a period of reflection and re-examination of space in House and Home; the adaptation of local creative practice during a global pandemic in Bridging the Digital Divide; physical and emotional wellbeing as public art in Community Care; and public art as an evolving social equity tool in Songs for a Revolution.
The artists highlighted in the Curatorial Showcases were able to best illustrate one or more of these aspects.
For the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped lives. During this time, people have sought – in various forms and outlets – reassurance, human connection, distraction, hope, justice, balance, and answers.
In a collective search for these things, people embraced digital formats and public space in different ways, expanding them both so much that something original altogether was created – a new public realm that continuously blurs the lines between public and private, real and imagined.
To view Reimagine Public Art and learn more about the virtual exhibition, please visit: culturela.org/reimagine/.
DCA gives special thanks to the Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI) for serving as an essential intermediary partner with this initiative.
About the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA)
As a leading, progressive arts and cultural agency, DCA empowers Los Angeles’s vibrant communities by supporting and providing access to quality visual, literary, musical, performing, and educational arts programming; managing vital cultural centers; preserving historic sites; creating public art; and funding services provided by arts organizations and individual artists.
Formed in 1925, DCA promotes arts and culture as a way to ignite a powerful dialogue, engage LA’s residents and visitors, and ensure LA’s varied cultures are recognized, acknowledged, and experienced. DCA’s mission is to strengthen the quality of life in Los Angeles by stimulating and supporting arts and cultural activities, ensuring public access to the arts for residents and visitors alike.
DCA advances the social and economic impact of arts and culture through grantmaking, public art, community arts, performing arts, and strategic marketing, development, design, and digital research. DCA creates and supports arts programming, maximizing relationships with other city agencies, artists, and arts and cultural nonprofit organizations to provide excellent service in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles.