2018 Grant Wood Symposium

Art in Public

The Grant Wood Art Colony presented the 6th biennial symposium, “Art in Public,” September 28-29, 2018.

Public art assumes many forms in the popular imagination; large-scale sculptures dominating urban squares and plazas, mosaics adorning the walls and walkways of municipal transit hubs, murals of local heroes parading across City Hall walls. However, contemporary public art is now mired in cultural bureaucracy. As intermediaries and agencies increasingly assume responsibility for the commission and creation of art on the behalf of public (often municipal) entities, public art has become synonymous with economic redevelopment. In turn, economic development is often a proxy for exclusionary gentrification. Who is this art for? Exactly which public determines the course of art making? Is public art the same thing as art made via participatory processes?

This day-long symposium will recognize the interplay between publicly engaged artistic practice and current events, and will build on the legacy of Grant Wood. A proponent of public art, Grant Wood headed the Public Works of Art Program (P.W.A.P.), a part of the New Deal, in 1934. The University of Iowa Regionalist artist and native Iowan not only completed several murals that are still extant, but encouraged other artists to create public art through his pedagogy and professional position.

The Grant Wood Art Colony is now accepting proposals for presentations, panels, discussions, and performances.


Art Building West, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242
141 North Riverside Drive, Iowa City, Iowa 52246