What public is "public art" for? Conference at TWU explores.

New York Painter Chris Anderson will be a keynote speaker during The Verge Art Series 2008 Conference.

We've all seen them - odd structures, sculptures or paintings that magically spring up in urban centers tagged as "public modern art." Some like it, some hate it, and others interact with it. But like it or lump it, we, the public, historically haven't had much say in what kind of art should be in our communities and if this art contributes to our greater collective good. One question remains unanswered - what public is "public art" for?

A three day interdisciplinary conference called "The Arts and Community", which runs October 16-18, will explore the relationship of the arts and community. Hosted by The Verge Arts Series at Trinity Western University, the conference will hear over 25 international presenters and two keynote speakers discuss questions such as: How do the arts (music, visual art, film, theatre, dance, etc.) impact community? Should community be a goal of art, or is it merely a byproduct? Should artistic practice have an ethical responsibility to a community?

Hatzis2007-01-thumbOn hand to speak into the discussion is renowned Canadian composer and University of Toronto Professor Christos Hatzis. The Grecian born artist recently added a 2008 Juno to his award collection in the category of Classical Composition of the Year for his work titled Constantinople. The Globe and Mail describes Hatzis's latest work as, "one of the most talked about contemporary classic compositions of the decade."

Hatzis, in his lecture, The Crucible of Contemporary Music: Community Building Through Art Music, will draw upon his continuing commitment to social change though music. Propelled by his deep religious faith and his view that as an artist his "social role is to be an imperfect ‘imitator of Christ,'" Hatzis will discuss how he "aims to take art music out of its traditional habitat of social, economic and educational privilege and actively engage underprivileged members of society."

Also on hand to add voice to the discussion is New York painter Chris Anderson. With exhibitions seen at The Art Institute of Chicago, Kebbie-Villa Museum Germany, American Embassy Moscow and the Rockefeller Arts Center to name but a few, Anderson has found critical acclaim among public and corporate collectors. Her website says of Anderson that "she explores the concept of ‘dwelling place', the search for cultural authenticity, the longing for spiritual and historical roots, and the beauty in life's "ordinary places".

The Lower Manhattan based artist has spent over a decade working with the theme of "domestic landscape." Anderson, whose works range from mixed-media painting and drawing installations to work in abstraction and pattern, will be speaking about her experiences building community among artists in New York, as well as some of her recent experiments in teaching.

Director of the Verge Art Series and Assistant Professor of Music at TWU, Jeff Warren says, "Too often people think that the arts either have some magical power to change the world or are a waste of public money. With public funding for the arts becoming a central debate this federal election, we need to rethink what sorts of roles art plays in the creation, negotiation, and even segregation of our local, national, and international communities."

This is the third Verge Art Series conference. Past conferences included talks on Arts and Social Action, and Art and Identity in an Age of Anxiety.

For more information on the Verge Art Series call 604-513-2173, email verge@the-outpost.ca or visit the website at www.vergearts.com

Event at a Glance

What: The Verge Art Series: An interdisciplinary arts conference to explore the relationships of the arts and community
When: October 16-18
Where: Trinity Western University, 7600 Glover Road (see online schedule for exact locations)
Cost: $90.00 per day
Contact: verge@the-outpost.ca or call 604.513.2173

Trinity Western University, in Langley, B.C. is an independent Christian liberal arts and sciences university enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers undergraduate degrees in 40 major areas of study ranging from biotechnology, education, nursing, theatre and music, to psychology, communications and biblical studies. TWU's 16 graduate degree programs include counseling psychology, business, theology and leadership, and offers interdisciplinary studies in English, philosophy and history. TWU holds Canada Research Chairs in Biblical Studies, Biology and Interpretation, Religion & Culture.


Last Updated: 2008-09-23
Author: Erin Mussolum