Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Talk/presentation: Public art / Art Prospect 2014
within the project CONFLUENCES RESONANTS. THE CROSSING OF THE WORLDS: CREATIONS IN ECHO collaborative project between GeoAIR and “Palimpseste
06.05.2014 / Tbilisi State Academy of Arts
Kendal Henry is an artist and curator who lives in New York City and specialises in the field of public art for the past twenty-two years. He illustrates that public art can be used as a tool for social engagement, civic pride and economic development through the projects and programs he’s initiated in the US, Europe, Russia, Asia, Central Asia, Australia and the Caribbean. Kendal believes that the most successful public artworks start with the question, “What do you want the artwork to do”, and takes into account the audience and surrounding environment in the creation of that artwork. While all his public works are different they share a common thread. The artworks are always site-specific, created in collaboration with others (artists, community, designers, etc.) and presented in multiples.
He currently teaches at the School of Visual Arts’ Public Art Summer Residency program and is a guest lecturer at various universities and educational institutions including the Abbey Mural Workshop at the National Academy Museum & School of Fine Arts; Rhode Island School of Design Senior Studio; and Pratt Institute’s Arts and Cultural Management Program. Kendal served as the Director of Culture and Economic Development for the City of Newburgh, NY where he created the region’s first Percent for Art Program. Prior to that post he was Manager of Arts Programs at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Arts for Transit for eleven years. During this time, he has overseen the commissioning, fabrication and installation of MTA’s permanent art projects, served as a member of the MTA’s in-house design team, and produced temporary exhibitions at Grand Central Terminal. Previous to this experience he served as a Project Manager at the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art Program. Kendal is also the Curator-at-large at the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art (MoCADA) in Brooklyn, NY and was elected to serve two 3-year terms on the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Council.
In 2014 Kendal Henry is curating the International Public Art Festival Art Prospect 2014 in Saint Petersburg with the title: Reclaim: React
Art Prospect is St. Petersburg’s only yearly event, which brings contemporary art into the city streets and provides the opportunity for artists from around the world to share their work with the local community. Initiated in September 2012, the Art Prospect Festival is a response to local interest in innovative forms of art that reach new audiences and offers artists from around the world a unique venue to share their work with unsuspecting audiences, who rarely view contemporary art works. The Art Prospect Festival strives to bring together a wide spectrum of interests to present contemporary art to the St. Petersburg community and to encourage collaboration and exchange between artists from around the world.  
Kendal Henry spoke about international practice in the field of public art, focusing attention on temporary public art works and festivals. He also discussed his concept for the 2014 Art Prospect Festival of public art in St. Petersburg, Russia, which he is curating. The 3rd Art Prospect Festival, organised by the international cultural exchange organisation CEC ArtsLink, explored the ways in which artists address the vast and complex ecological issues at the forefront of global conversations through public participation and social engagement. In each instance the artist stretches the definition of art and redefines his/her role as instigator, collaborator, activist and designer while enticing the public to participate in curious and exciting ways. The audience is meant to encounter artworks that speak to serious environmental issues around climate change, conservation, energy, resources and environmental health in non-aggressive ways that increases awareness and inspires action.