By Peter Krsko
Public Display begins Friday July 13.
Contemporary Public Art as Folk Art
The most beautiful characteristic of contemporary public art is its diversity along with the wide range of opinions and classifications used to describe it. The sub genres of visual public art include graffiti, street art, community murals… The visual art presented at CITIFIED exhibit is the perfect example of contemporary folk art.
Despite their visual and conceptual differences, all the sub-genres of visual public art share one common characteristic – they are often created by an artist or a group of artists who do not have formal training or they work closely with a community of people who are not trained artists. Their driving force is the common interest in the community and shared responsibility for the built environment where they live.
Traditionally perceived as rural phenomenon, folk art has established strong and vital roots in urban communities. In this unique point in history when generations of people know only life in urban areas, folk art is being drastically transformed and responds to the life in a city. Graffiti and other forms of non-commissioned public art in the recent decades have sprouted directly from city centers, without being influenced by trends in academia or world of fine art galleries. In fact, art scholars, curators and collectors have been following the developments in arts in public areas.
It is difficult to identify any other visual artistic trends and developments in human history that would have gained such a strong following and practice as graffiti and contemporary community murals. The art is developed spontaneously, in a bottom-up fashion, driven by individuals and their interactions with the immediate community in urban built environment.
The visual art presented at CITIFIED exemplifies the current trends in global living folk art traditions that are also practiced in public sphere through community involvement. The free-standing structures will be painted by the artists who have previously created murals or created community art in East of the River DC along with the audience members.
East of the River Visual Art as Urban Folk Culture
The CITIFIED exhibit was designed to present arts and culture of Ward 7 and Ward 8 at Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Albus Cavus was invited to create the mural installation because of our well-established programming and public art in this area. The individual artists were chosen according to criteria of being a resident of this area or have created a piece of public art here in past. The collective portfolio of this group includes significant murals on MLK Avenue SE, Good Hope Road, Alabama Avenue SE, multiple hands-on workshop, creative sessions and interactive events that involve local residents. The artists have created art with hundreds of local youth and established strong bonds to the area.
Charles Coco Bayron
Tim CON Conlon
Bryan REI XXI Conner
Alicia DECOY Cosnahan
Kevin JAZIROCK Irvin
Prelli Anthony Williams
CITIFIED is located at the corner of 13th and W Streets SE in the heart of historic Anacostia. The public outdoor exhibition will be on display through September 30.