This project explored the significance of public art to the cities of Lewiston and Auburn, Maine. It examines existing public art in the two cities, addresses issues of awareness and accessibility of public art in this community, and reviews the value of public art with respect to culture, history, sense of place, and community. This project involved the development of various devices (a database, walking tour, map, and literature review) to convey the information we collected with regards to the previous aims.
To increase awareness of L/A’s public art within and outside outside of the local area, we compiled information about public art around Downtown Lewiston and Downtown Auburn. All of the information collected through this project is accessible through a website (https://lapublicart.wixsite.com/home) and brochure (with maps and suggested walking tour). The majority of the information collected for the project came from Lewiston, which is home to 86% of the area’s public art. Differences in regulation between the cities may be responsible for the lack of public art in Auburn.
It was found that the majority of public art in Downtown Lewiston was created by a small number of the total artists identified by this project. An increase in accessibility of the creation of legal pieces of public art could inspire art that better reflects the voices and visual style of the broader community. This project aims to increase accessibility by producing artist and event pages on the website so that people from the community are better able to reach out or go to an event if they want to be involved with public art in L/A.
Scholars have found that a person’s involvement in public art leads to an increase in sense of belonging and pride in a community. Through a synthesis of surveys sent out to artists and case studies from other cities with public art projects, this project discovered the value of public art to local artists and communities in cities similar to Lewiston and Auburn. Community engagement was the most important value identified through this process. This was followed by culture, which was always regarded as positively impacted by public art. The involvement of youth was another important value, as public art tends to empower youth within their communities and enhance their cultural experience. Incorporation of history was also identified as a valuable aspect of public art because it enables residents and visitors to reflect on the area’s rich past. Finally, economic development, though overlooked by most artists, was seen as a positive outcome of public art intertwined with the other identified values.
Finally, this project recommends future steps for public art in Lewiston and Auburn. These include the creation of public art projects that involve community members, increased participation in public art creation and sponsorship by businesses and organizations, the adaptation and continuation of walking tours that highlight public art, ensuring that public art positively reflects the cultures present in L/A, encouragement of youth involvement in public art, and acknowledgement that public art can counteract negative stigmas toward residents and neighborhoods.
Crim, Haley; Ferguson, Rebecca; and Knight, Katharine, "Cataloging Public Art in Lewiston and Auburn" (2017). Community Engaged Research Reports. 44.