‘Art Matters’ updates public art directory

The face of public art is changing for the Macon-Bibb County area.

The Macon Arts Alliance has started a program called “Art Matters,” which is a journalism partnership between the Macon Arts Alliance and Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism, where students can work as journalism interns.

As a project spearheaded by philosophy department chair Dr. Creighton Rosental’s Philosophy of the Arts class, the Macon Arts Alliance has been working with Mercer students to create a public art directory for the Macon-Bibb County area that is accessible through Ovations365.com.

The Macon Arts Alliance held a press conference about the new directory Feb. 3 in the President’s Dining Room in Mercer’s University Center.

The directory is an effort to unite the community by providing knowledge of local art and is credited to the hard work of Mercer’s Philosophy of the Arts class. Jonathan Dye, director of communications for the Macon Arts Alliance, was influential in the work for the public art directory as well.

Students from the class spoke about the impact of the work they had done with the directory.

“Art adds meaning to our lives,” said Mercer student, Anna Mae Kersey.

The Community Foundation of Central, Ga., Inc. and the John S. and James. L. Knight Foundation funded the website that hosts the directory.

Prior to new efforts, the Macon art database had not been updated since 1993.

The first step in the process of updating the database was to define what public art was. Then, the Mercer students took photographs, updated the info from the database and put it all online. Now anyone can find where public art is in Macon.

“The public art directory offers the best picture of what our community has in terms of public art. It’s a building block on which future planning can be built,” Dye said.

Ryan Walters, a Mercer student and journalism intern with Macon Arts Alliance, stated there was a connection between philosophy and public art. “We are a part of what public art is, and we are its inspiration,” Walters said.

Mercer student Monica Hoyle added that she was really excited to be a part of this project and hopes to see it take off even more. She said that art really makes a connection to society.

The Philosophy of the Arts class projected the directory on the walls of the President’s Dining Room for everyone at the press conference to see.

The public art works are presented with pictures, descriptions, the name of the artist, the year it was created, the condition of the work and its location. Some of the works even include videos. Dye stated that the Philosophy of the Arts class is working to begin public art tours to foster a sense of art awareness in the community.

The Community Foundation of Central, Ga., Inc. and the College Hill Corridor Commission held another public art meeting on Feb. 4 at the Peyton Anderson Community Services building to talk about public art in the College Hill Corridor. Community members had the chance to give feedback on the public art projects that were submitted to the Knight Neighborhood Challenge for grants.

“As the local arts agency, Macon Arts Alliance is designated to act on behalf of Macon-Bibb County in terms of cultural planning,” Dye said. “Any plan for the future of public art in Macon will begin with this directory, and we have these students to thank for that foundation.”