Local artists talk about the power of public art

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Local artist Réna Bradley talks about public art at Arts United March 26 during the PechaKucha event. BRIDGETT HERNANDEZ

FORT WAYNE — The clock was ticking for six local artists who took the stage at Arts United March 26 to talk about what public art means to them – and they had just over six and a half minutes to get their points across.

The presentation method, PechaKucha, requires speakers to follow the format of showing 20 images and speaking about each for 20 seconds. The format is used globally as a way for people to present creative ideas in a succinct and engaging way.

The PechaKucha Night was hosted by the city of Fort Wayne Public Art Commission and kicked off the planning process for the Fort Wayne Public Art Master Plan.

Created last spring, the public art program’s mission is to promote and integrate public art throughout the city while the Art Commission reviews and selects art to be displayed in public spaces. The goal is to enhance the visual environment and strengthen the positive reputation, brand and stature of Fort Wayne and its neighborhoods.

The Fort Wayne Public Art Commission invited the public to a PechaKucha event at Arts United March 26. PechaKucha is a presentation method where speakers follow the format of showing 20 images and speaking about each for 20 seconds. BRIDGETT HERNANDEZ

The six local artists to speak at the event in the PechaKucha format included Réna Bradley, Adrian Curry, Sayaka Ganz, Alexandra Hall, Jim Merz and Tim Parsley.

Ganz, who describes her style as “3D impressionism,” used reclaimed metal and plastic objects in her recent sculptures that depict animals in motion with rich colors and energy.

In her PechaKucha presentation, she talked about public art in airports and other transit systems. While the people passing through these spaces might feel stressed, anxious or bored, public art has the power “to make people stop worrying so much, notice and appreciate their surroundings and experience the present moment,” she said.

Bradley, a designer and community advocate, said public art is about more than building up spaces – it’s about building up the people within them. In her current role as community development director at Bridge of Grace, she uses design as a tool to mobilize youth, residents and volunteers who want to make a different in their neighborhood.

Public art can be an opportunity for social justice, she said. It can be used to reveal new voices and perspectives in the community or to “amend history” by showing people of color in positions of leadership where they were missing before.

“Public art can bring together the power of public spaces to affect people and the power of art to impact what we create and, having a mindset of equity, you can imbue more justice into our communities,” she said.

For more information about Fort Wayne’s public art program, visit www.FortWaynePublicArt.com.