Projections In Public: Grand Rapids

Projections In Public: Grand Rapids

Curators Statement

Projections in Public

Curated by Karen Atkinson

Curator’s Statement

PROJECTIONS IN PUBLIC is meant for a storefront window in a fairly well traveled area. Slides are rear screen projected in the window so the images face the street.  The project began in 1987 when there was much controversy over public arts in this country, and was initially conceived in response to the debates surrounding this issue. Since that time, PROJECTIONS IN PUBLIC has been used to explore many other ideas and issues, and has been shown in several different locations- from a flower market in Los Angeles to a warehouse in Cleveland.

The imagery in slide form, are by artists from around the country, designed specifically for each site the project is shown, It is a way for these artists to explore a mode of direct communication with the audience.  I am interested in this public format as a means to engage people in a comfortable way, on their own terms, at their own pace, and expand some of the current notions of how public art can function.

With this in mind, I have included a number of local artist who produced projects for this exhibition.  This is new work for them, and the project, for most of them, was quite different form those artists who have created work from outside the area, and may reflect some familiarity with their particular audience. Their projects may address the “ neighborhood” with more accuracy.

These images are meant to engage a dialogue with the audience, hopefully drawing the viewer a step further into thinking about what is addressed.  The issues and ideas presented range from the local neighborhood to global concerns.  Presented in this context, it creates a public discussion of issues affecting Michigan and the rest of the world.  So bring your folding beach chair, maybe some popcorn, and set yourself up in the street and enjoy.

                                                                        - Karen Atkinson



Grand Rapids has a rich history of public sculpture. In 1969 Calder’s La Grande Vitesse was dedicated in Vandenberg Center. The sculpture, although always controversial (be it for its abstract design, or yellow ribbons which may adorn it), has become a symbol for this city.  Sculpture off the Pedestal, a temporary exhibition of outdoor sculpture sponsored by the Women’s Committee in the early 70’s, received national attention.  This project brought Grand Rapids permanent structures by artists such as Mark di Suvero (Motu) and Robert Morris ( The Grand Rapids Project (X), an earth sculpture in Belknap Memorial Park. Other works include Joseph Kinnebrew’s Grand River Sculpture and Fish ladder, and the not yet completed River’s Edge Environmental Sculpture Park,

Now there’s another title to add to this line- up.  Karen Atkinson’s Projections in Public explores/ explodes not only the issues which can be addresses through public sculpture, but the very idea of public sculpture itself.  Ms. Atkinson writes “ I was concerned about “the public’s” response to permanent sculpture “plunked on the street corner” (forever it would seem), and that was temporary, and, because of that, less threatening.

Projections in Public/ Grand Rapids gives 12 artists and diverse Grand Rapids audiences the opportunity to interact in new ways.  People who may never walk into a gallery space will have a chance to see and react to this project.  The content of the works deal with issues which concern us all, and are illustrative of how art and artists can be used to begin needed dialogue of these issues.

As possible budget cuts threaten to make art more and more inaccessible, UCLA is determined to present and generate projects which bring the  arts out into the community. Out mission statement emphasizes this determination: UICA is dedicated to the development of a vital cultural community by generating and supporting innovative thought and creative action.