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.
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.
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."