30 thoughts on “Public Art Study: Fred Wilson’s E Pluribus Unum | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

  1. Completely fascinating. I'd love to be apart of a wider dialogue about whether public art should engender positivity or if the purpose of public art, like most other forms of art, should be to evoke thought and conversation and maybe the ultimate realization that just because something causes you to feel mixed emotions, that doesn't mean its message cannot be positive.
    Great video!

  2. this video has definitely changed the ways in which i'll look at any public art i come across now, especially here in my hometown of Frankfurt, Germany. I definitely take note of installations around me, but i've never thought about the development process behind them. (Except for the time when the university put 100 little colourful Goethe statues all over the front lawn to celebrate its centennial. That was so cute that it stuck to my mind and I had to read up on it.)

  3. That sounded like a great artwork… but issues are so complex that I understand how it could have raised negative feelings. Still, I'm not convinced that having no monument at all is an improvement.

    Ps: I found the numerous cutting in and out a bit distracting, and not really adding any value to what Sarah was saying.

  4. While Mining the Museum was at the Maryland Historical Society, Fred Wilson also worked in conjunction with The Contemporary in Baltimore πŸ™‚

  5. Hi Sarah,
    I just wanted to thank you for all of your hard work with this show. It really has been a useful tool, and something I come back to an reference again and again. You are helping me to think more deeply, and engage with more art than I ever would have without this show. You are doing an amazing job, and I really appreciate it.

  6. This is a really interesting episode! I really like this style of episode, a study focused mostly on just one or two artworks. More like this please!

  7. I very much don't understand art. Sometimes I see lines that tell a story, of far off lands or difficult ideas, but sometimes I just see lines. This message brought to you by staying up super late…

  8. This reminds me of my local public art. In San Jose, California there is a controversial "Park God" statue. The statue sits in the heart of down town and was commissioned by the City of San Jose to represent the local Mexican population. The artist Robert Graham, chose to do a "Plumed Serpent" based on the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. The serpent sits in a coil on a low concrete pedestal and really looks like a giant peace of dog poop. The statue's plaque doesn't say the name of the statue "Plumed Serpent", instead it reads "Park God", or "Dog Krap" if you spell it backwards. When I walk past it, I always think about how it is truly symbolic of San Jose's disconnect from the art and cultural relevance of it's neighboring cities of San Francisco and Oakland.

    Thanks to this video I did some research to check the facts about the "Park God" and I was pleasantly surprised that the story I'd been told about the statue was actually close to the truth. Amazing.



  9. This reminds me of the Daily Show episode a few days (weeks?) ago about the town seal in upstate New York, which features an offensive depiction of a Native American being choked by a white man, which wasn't the historical scene that actually took place. The scene was a wrestling match intending to show how friendly the two groups of people were. Art gets interpreted differently over time, and it's important to acknowledge both the history and why we now view something as offensive that wasn't before, and why artistic intention doesn't matter as much as the consequence in some cases.

  10. It does seem the trend in public art is going one of two ways.
    First way something becomes public art is that a wealthy person donates a piece they have purchased or commissioned- so what the 1% values gets a lot of representation.
    Second way something becomes public art is that interested people try to make something meaningful, but because one single complaint gets so much weight the only type of art that can survive the public scrutiny is so generic and un-remarkably unobjectionable that that is can barely be called art.

  11. Great video! It also reminds me of other public works that were never made or removed, like Richard Serra's Tilted Arc.

  12. Amazing perspective. I can't wait to share this with my students. Each time I watch an episode, I remember why I fell for art in college. Thanks for renewing that love over and over again.

  13. I have some difficulty with the concept of a "commissioned work of art" when it comes to public art. Probably because I have my personal work and then there is the commissioned work I do. The first one is whatever rocks my boat and the public can take or leave it. ( and they mostly leave it to be honest πŸ˜‰ ) and then there is the commissioned work that is all about what others want, but I can create and of course it gets created with my style. Watching this video all I could think of is "what a nightmare for the artist. It is almost an impossible endeavor, since communities rarely have a unified perspective and that will mean that in order to succeed the artist would have to consider every possible interpretation of his work in an effort to be mindful of everybody's possible feedback (trying to please everybody) which you know from the get go is not achievable. Kind of like getting hire for a gig with thousands of art directors to please. And you know before hand what way is gonna go because if the goal is not to disturb anyone you know flat and boring art is your safest bet.

  14. Sara,
    This show is amazing. When I was first made aware of it I binged watch dozens of videos. I specially love the "A case for…" videos. As others have said because is an in-depth view of an artist or a work of art and I feel that I learn a lot. Keep up the good work!

  15. I was completely taken out of the video when Sara said she was in middle school in 1992. I didn't realize that she was so young.

    That said, I think that there is a definite need for representations of Black culture that are not prefaced through the lens of white culture first. I believe Mr. Wilson's idea shows not only respect for the original piece and that artist but an understanding of what images and the placement of those images would be the most resonant to his audience.

  16. Mining the museum is one of the cornerstones of contemporary art, curatorship, museology, and the field of art and culture nowadays. It would be awesome to get an interview with Fred, to me, one of the top 10 most influential artists in XXI Century.

  17. This was a fantastic episode. I love the use of a single artwork (with some context maybe) to elaborate on a broader idea or issue.

  18. It's the same when rape victims include rape in their writings or art yet some people outside their circle say that they cannot do that as it may or may not send the right message. It's complicated and neither are wrong.

  19. 4:17 "The meaning of the artwork was unclear to many, raising questions instead of answering them." lol i wonder what art that answers questions would look like. hmmm, probably like your typical city monument.

  20. i'm reassured "you also respect the opinions of those who opposed it." 5:00 glad we got your approval on that one.

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