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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

August 26, 2005

What's public art?

by Diana Pounds

Those who wield the chisels, mallets and paintbrushes are important, of course. But mostly, it's the scientists, teachers, secretaries and students who've shaped the public art on the Iowa State campus.

Over the past couple of decades, more than 600 ISU faculty, staff and students have been involved in planning for and commissioning new art on campus. Their collective visions are stamped on hundreds of major works of public art throughout campus.

Public art, says University Museums director Lynette Pohlman, is art that's created through collaboration between a community group and an artist. Iowa State is all about public art. It has the largest campus collection of public art in the nation.

The process works something like this:

  • When construction begins on campus, a committee is appointed to obtain art for the new facility. Under the Iowa Art in State Buildings law, one half of one percent of new construction funds is designated for public art.
  • The committee writes a public art statement, expressing values it hopes to express through the new art.
  • Pohlman provides the committee with a list of potential artists for the project.
  • The committee narrows the list, meets with artists and eventually selects an individual to do a design proposal and the final work of art.
David Inyang

David Inyang, EHS director, stands inside the entry to the new Environmental Health and Safety Services Building. The art on the terrazzo floor is a birdseye view of the inside of The Crucible, which stands outside the building.

Can't-miss campus art