Public art has been Associate Professor Shaun Cassidy’s passion for years – and now he’s passing on his enthusiasm to his students.
"Public art involves a different type of thinking, and it involves a lot of collaboration as well as social interaction. Artists have to work within parameters set by other people," said Cassidy, who teaches sculpture.
The British-born artist, who came to Winthrop in 1999, has involved his students in several public art projects. Recently, Cassidy oversaw the work of nine students who created eight sculptures for the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship, a PGA TOUR event held in Charlotte, N.C. Collectively called the "Windows Project," the project was the first public art to be commissioned in the championship's 10-year history. Students also have been involved in projects with Old Town Rock Hill, including the creation of six bike racks unveiled at the May 7, 2011, Mayor's Ride; the permanent Main Street Sculpture Gallery, a series of seven student-created sculptures; and spring 2010's "Ain't Misbehavin'," tree sapling weaver/artist Patrick Dougherty's temporary art installation at Rock Hill's Community Performance Center.
Involving students in ambitious public art projects like the "Windows Project" and "Ain't Misbehavin'" empower student-artists "to move beyond what they think they're capable of," noted Cassidy. Students also get the chance to see their hard work and their talents displayed publicly – and sometimes in settings only available to professional artists – which can provide motivation to pursue successful careers in the arts.
"Those little moments of recognition can have a big impact on an artist's career," said Cassidy. Cassidy himself has made a career of extending his creative range by participating in numerous public art projects in the U.S. and overseas. He has designed a 12-and-a-half foot metal sculpture used in choreographer Sasha Janes' performance "Glass Houses" at the Blumenthal Center in Charlotte, N.C.; worked with Tom Stanley, chair of Winthrop's Department of Fine Arts, to create and install four wall sculptures at the Maurer Center of Public Health in Omaha, Neb.; and fabricated 40 sections of metal fencing for 10 of Charlotte's light rail stations.
Cassidy also spent his fall 2008 sabbatical as artist-in-residence at the Sanskriti Foundation in New Delhi, India, where he collaborated with painter American Kristy Verenga to place "fabric paintings" – bright-colored fabric discs – around New Delhi. During his time in India, he also created site-specific sculptures and completed 16 vibrant large-scale drawings. Cassidy's experiences with public art taught him its value as part of an artist's education.
More than that, Cassidy said, public art "tells artists that they play an important role in society."
Last updated: 05/23/2012