UMBC Selects Public Art Finalists

UMBC today joins the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) in announcing the names of three finalists selected to create a public art installation outside of the new Performing Arts and Humanities Building (PAHB). More than 140 artists submitted qualifications for the $397,000 commission.

The three finalists—Barbara Grygutis, Thomas Sayre and the collaborative Mags Harries and Lajos Héder—all have experience creating works of large-scale public art with an emphasis on contextual relevance. They were selected based on the merit of prior work and their vision for UMBC.

Timothy Nohe, director of the Center for Innovation, Research and Creativity in the Arts (CIRCA) and professor of visual arts, and Lynne Schaefer, vice president for administration and finance, led an extensive campus outreach effort over the fall semester as part of this process. Their efforts resulted in the vision of a public art installation that invites community gathering, reflects the passage of time, and embraces the values and culture of UMBC.

“The artists have had a month to create a site-specific design concept that supports a year-round destination where people can gather, sit, reflect and engage with each other in an outdoor setting,” says Lucas Cowan, public art program director at the MSAC.

Timothy Nohe adds, “UMBC imagines an environment in which ‘can’t’ is replaced by ‘how,’ and the chosen project will represent that spirit of collaborative innovation.”

On March 3, each of the finalists will present their concept to UMBC’s principal selection committee. The chosen artist will be notified shortly thereafter, with the project expected to be completed by August 2014.

UMBC partnered with the MSAC for guidance on commissioning the public art project. The Maryland Public Art Initiative (MPAI), signed into law last year, requires state-funded construction or major renovation projects to include a public art component. The university invited the MSAC to add its expertise to this important and highly visible public art project.

Selected Finalists

Barbara Grygutis has created more than 70 works of large-scale public art in locations across the United States and beyond. Her awards and accolades include the National Endowment for the Arts’ Individual Artist Fellowship and an Individual Project Design, and second place in the International Quadrennial Competition in Faenza, Italy. In addition to her permanent public art installations, Grygutis’ work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC; Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, New York; Bronx Museum in New York City; and Parker Collection for the vice president’s residence and the White House, both in Washington, D.C. Click here to visit her website.

Mags Harries and Lajos Héder formed Harries/Héder Collaborative in Cambridge, MA in 1990 and have worked together on more than 25 major public commissions since then. They bring to their collaboration the different worlds of art and architecture. Mags contributes her experience as a sculptor and a teacher, as well as her past work creating public art. Lajos, in addition to being an artist, was trained as an architect and has worked on community projects, urban design, site planning, architecture and construction. Their focus, however, is shared: to activate public space through art. On every project, Harries and Héder collaborate fully in the development of design and ideas, drawing from separate skills and areas of expertise. Their work has been recognized for many local and national awards, which the pair attributes to their partnerships with community members, engineers, landscape architects and other artists. Click here to visit their website.

Thomas Sayre has designed and built public art projects all over the world and has participated in design teams for civic, educational and museum buildings. Along with architect Steve Schuster, Sayre is a founding principal in the multi-disciplinary design firm Clearscapes, based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Sayre believes that art will only work when disparate opinions come together through collaboration to form a coherent vision. Click here to visit his website.

Principal Selection Committee (from UMBC unless otherwise noted)

Vice President for Administration and Finance Lynne Schaefer, University Architect Joseph Rexing, Service Center Project Manager Mickey Miller (University of Maryland, Baltimore), Alex Castro and Jan Goldstein (Maryland Commission on Public Art), Associate Professor Helen Burgess (English), Associate Professor Preminda Jacob (visual arts), Professor Timothy Nohe (visual arts, CIRCA director), Associate Professor Sandy Parker (geography and environmental systems), Professor Phyllis Robinson (biological sciences), Associate Provost for Enrollment Management Yvette Mozie-Ross, and architect Cliff Gayley (William Rawn Associates).