Bringing people together
New projects that showcase the artistic talents of CCU’s students include the Teal Alley Mural (left) in downtown Conway and The Cube Galleries placed throughout campus.
One of the primary benefits of public art is that it brings people together. During the last year, partnerships with the city of Conway and across Coastal Carolina University’s campus have allowed for the creation of two new public art projects.
In Spring 2021, in collaboration with the city and Conway Downtown Alive, I was able to work with 11 CCU student interns on the Teal Alley Mural in downtown Conway. At more than 3,000 sq. feet, Teal Alley has become a destination for the community. Designing two murals where community members see themselves reflected in the imagery has allowed people to identify with the place and creates a sense of belonging between the city and University.
There are many benefits to communities investing in public art projects, but one of my primary goals is to make art more accessible. This summer, I began The Cube Galleries at the University. This series of satellite, mini galleries are found at five locations on campus, with another one at the Conway Visitor Center. Much like the Free Little Libraries that have popped up in neighborhoods throughout the country, The Cube Galleries create opportunities to bring contemporary art out of the institution and into the daily lives of those on campus and in the community. The Cube Galleries are dedicated to demystifying the gallery space in order to create accessible and shared experiences.
The inaugural exhibition in The Cube Galleries presented the work of Sarah Bouchard ‘21, who earned a bachelor’s degree in visual arts. Her show, titled “Breaking Rank,” is a body of work created using copper, pewter, rivets, and fabrication in the production of six vessels.
Bouchard states, “I create abstract forms that symbolize the disciplined and rigid nature of a military mindset, while simultaneously introducing elegant curves that reinforce a concept of liberation from restraint.”
These unique spaces will have rotating exhibitions of student, faculty, and professional artists’ work throughout the year.
Public art projects are not possible without the collaboration of many partners. The Cube Galleries project was initially inspired by the Art Viewing Boxes placed in and around Asheville, N.C., during Summer 2020 by artists Jackson Martin, Suzanne Dittenber, and Luke Whitlatch, and the Tiger Strikes Asteroid exhibit location in Greenville, S.C. The Cube Galleries were designed and constructed by CCU carpenter Ronald Hinson, and supported by Rein Mungo, director of facilities planning and management, and the Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts.
The intersection of disciplines public art projects create is integral to their lasting success. The Teal Alley Mural and Cube Galleries are the beginning of a larger vision for public artworks on the Coastal Carolina University campus and in the greater community. For more information about Teal Alley or upcoming exhibitions at The Cube Galleries, visit www.coastal.edu/art.
Arendt is an assistant professor of visual arts at CCU.