Kennesaw, KSU Team Up for Public Art Project

November 3rd, 2017 by Pam Davis

Public art brings unique value and character to communities, but there’s more to public art than just putting up a sculpture in a park. The public art that is most likely to be appreciated over the long-term is art that originates from local artists. This Friday, the City of Kennesaw unveiled art projects downtown that were designed by Kennesaw State University students and are sculptural but also utilitarian.

Strengthening the relationship between the city and the University has long been a goal for the Kennesaw’s Mayor and Council. Early this year, Economic Development Director Bob Fox approached Geo Sipp, the Director of the KSU School of Art and Design, with the idea of a joint public art project with art students. The two met to discuss how they could work together on original art for Kennesaw’s downtown that was both functional and aesthetically pleasing. “We wanted to give art students a real-world opportunity to go through the public art commission process, including selection, fabrication, and installation,” said Fox. “The city would provide financial support.”

With Sipp onboard with the concept, the next step was to draw up an agreement between the city and the Board of Regents on behalf of the KSU. The agreement specified that the School of Art and Design would submit designs and complete fabrication while the city would underwrite the material cost. An art review committee consisting of city staff and members of the Art and Culture Commission was established to evaluate the designs and choose winners.

The first pieces that were commissioned were benches to be placed on the Southern Museum walkway and at the City Hall Plaza currently under construction. Students researched relevant material and aesthetic choices, taking into account city codes and accessibility requirements and submitted their designs. Eight designs were submitted. Once the final choices were made, they began fabrication by cutting, bending, grinding, and welding the benches in preparation for installation. The Downtown Development Authority funded the cost of materials and the city’s Public Works Department did the installation. The first two benches at the museum walkway are completed and installed; a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, November was held to recognize the artists Megan Pace and Thomas Daniel, both students in the Master Craftsman Program.

In the next phase of the partnership, design proposals will be requested for the city’s new Gateway Park on Main Street at Sardis Street.