DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.
DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.



  • Research topic: In my action/research-based project, I explore how educators may effectively utilize the democratic educational space in their local neighborhoods as “critical,” thereby transcending the purely “monumental” aspects of public art.
  • Rationale: Chicago’s 2012 Cultural Plan suggested that educators look toward local art in public spaces as a means of cultural education. The “Cultural Plan” designated between $250,000 to 1 million, proposing that educators take students into their own neighborhoods, relying upon the “showcases of culture…that are located within walking distance of the school,” thereby optimizing “affordability” (City of Chicago: Supplemental, 2012, p. 4). However, Benjamin noted that an image, a work of art as an historical document, may “attain to legibility only at a particular time;” they stand, therefore, as potentially monumental historical artifacts relevant only to the historical epoch in which they were created, and nothing more (Arcades, p. 462). Do the older public sculptures become living documents from which we may learn new lessons, or are they archaic monuments merely filling valuable real estate space at the busiest intersections in Chicago? Benjamin argued that at the intersection between older images and present analysis, historical works of art may serve either as “monumental” obstacles to progress, or through “the task of…interpretation,” they may become crucial tools of transformative, “critical” history (ibid, p. 464).
  • Research question: How can the democratic space surrounding public, “monumental” art be used as a “critical” component of art education?
  • Sub-questions:
  • What role has public art played in history?
  • How have Chicago’s Cultural Plans shaped public art in the past?
  • How does the community currently respond to public art?
  • Fieldwork Interview Questions Include:
  • What attracts people to public art?
  • How educated is the public regarding the art they view?
  • Which works of public art are most memorable? Why?
  • Methodology: In a series of interviews, I analyze how members of the community engage with the democratic space surrounding these historical works of art. My research also includes interviews with local artists, college educators, and local corporate members. I encourage the public to interact and interpret the images dotting Chicago’s cityscape, asking them how they believe these public spaces may best be used as an effective, critical means of art education.
  • Results/Outcomes: In addition to developing a series of walking tours Chicago educators may reference while introducing neighborhood art to their students, I will explore how public art may best serve as a tool for critical, transformative democratic education.
DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.