Deadline Extended to March 10, 2017

Symposium May 18, 19 and 20, 2017

Public art is contentious. It straddles expectations ranging from traditional to temporary, monument to site, community-based to corporate. In the increasingly diverse, connected and yet fractious world we live in, what is public art’s relationship to issues ranging from economic disparity to environmental uncertainty, cultural inclusivity to political unrest?

The Public Art: New Ways of Thinking and Working symposium will offer a forum for active research, critical debate and honest dialogue on the role of public art and the process of its commissioning and creation. The symposium will support conversations across academic disciplines and between academics and practice with the goal of encouraging new partnerships, and new critical understandings and approaches within the field.

This symposium will endeavor to produce practical outcomes through an examination of the following: how public art is being made and the agency of curation, audience and criticality in public art; how can commissioning more accurately reflect contemporary visual arts practices, and the present state of contemporary art; and what might public art and its processes look like in the future?


New Ways of Thinking and Working in Public Art will bring together keynote speakers who are on the leading edge of the field and multi-disciplinary panels that will challenge the role of public art in Canada and abroad. We invite the participation of artists, academics, curators, policy makers and other public art professionals and welcome proposals for panels, workshops, and presentations that reconsider public art today and encompass a wide range of cultural, political, social and pedagogical perspectives in visual art, architecture, art history, city planning, engineering and urban studies. All submissions will be reviewed by the advisory panel with the intent of creating an inclusive and critical discourse on public art.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

- criticality and critique in public art – furthering the dialogue

- policy and public art: challenges and opportunities

- re-defining 'engagement' within the broader evolution of contemporary art practices

- future directions in public art: processes, practices

- notions of temporality in public spectacle

- our contemporary context: political, social and cultural perspectives

- the role of audience in public practice

Presentation Proposal Guidelines:

Please include the following materials with your proposal:

• title of the presentation or panel

• abstract of 150-200 words (a concise overview of the topic, subject and/or object, and research approach)

• CV (as a pdf attachment)

• email and phone number

Submission Deadline: February 28, 2017 (extended to March 10, 2017)

We warmly encourage participants of culturally diverse backgrounds and identities to submit proposals. Public Art: New Ways of Thinking and Working is hosted by the Department of Visual Art and Art History of York University along with various partner institutions. This symposium is organized by Professor Brandon Vickerd (York University, Toronto) and Ciara McKeown, Public Art Professional and Consultant (Calgary, AB). Members of the advisory committee include Professor Janine Marchessault (York University), Professor Jennifer Fisher (York University), Rina Greer, Public Art Consultant and founding Director of the Toronto Sculpture Garden, Helena Grdadolnik, Public Art Curator and Director of Workshop Architecture, and Ivan Jurakic, Director/Curator University of Waterloo Art Gallery.

Questions can be directed to

Information on Public Art: New Ways of Thinking and Working can be found at

Presented by the School for Art, Media, Performance and Design of York University.