Studio William Cochran - Catalytic Public Art for American Downtowns

The Merriweather Horns, Columbia Maryland
Torris, Alexandria, VA
Two Roads, Silver Spring
Pillar of Fire, Washington
Desire Lines, Bethesda, MD
The Shining Dark, Baltimore
The Dreaming, Frederick Maryland
Centennial Sculpture Park, Rochester, NY
Oak Wisdom, Baltimore
Kardia, St. Louis MO
Community Bridge, Frederick Maryland
Poets Walk, Rochester
A Handful of Keys, NY
The Dream Pool, Frederick, Maryland
Cornerstone, Rockville MD
Sky Loom
The Weaving Wall
The Lonesome Touch, Martinsburg, WV
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Humanity is becoming more concentrated, a permanently urban species. As a result, community planning and development efforts face increasingly complex challenges. Culture can ease frictions; public art can be a powerful catalyst for economic and community health, building urban vitality on multiple levels simultaneously.

There is untapped potential for large-scale collaborative art-making to help shape the work's impact - collaboration with non-artists, with natural forces, with the momentum of change itself. The process can link dissimilar people with each other and with their world, fostering connection, rapport and ownership. It can reveal unseen strengths within the community, focusing them in a lasting way at the core of the city, bringing ongoing benefits to cultural, social, educational and economic sectors.

Such projects explore and demonstrate a shared creativity, a collective efficacy - sometimes called co-creation. A growing awareness of our impact on the natural world has paved the way for a new understanding of human life as part of an interconnected and interdependent fabric. That web of interconnection is a kind of armature for new forms of cultural and social engagement.

Cochran Studio is interested in public art projects that utilize community engagement methods to leverage the imaginative power of the community and the natural world to strengthen and anchor the work and the community itself.

The value of this approach has moved beyond theory. One early prototype, Community Bridge, drew creative participation from across the nation and from some thirty other countries, helping to ignite development of the long-stalled urban park around it, with total new public and private development now exceeding three hundred and fifty million dollars and growing. The bridge helped shift attitudes and park development in a more community-friendly, mixed-use direction that has made it an economic engine for its city, while supporting downtown vitality and cultural diversity. Leaders say well over a thousand new jobs will be generated – within walking distances of stressed neighborhoods where they are most needed. Tens of thousands of people a year visit Community Bridge, many on guided tours where they hear the stories of this unusual project that speaks wth a communal voice comprised of the individual voices of people of all ages and backgrounds.

"Community Bridge has brought community focus to a declining industrial area of the town, created significant capital investment to areas surrounding project site, and helped tourism to revitalize in this area . . architectural, artistic and cultural development in this community increased while problems related to racial tension began declining. As a consequence, the concept of this initiative has been replicated by groups nationwide . . . Today the bridge has become a symbol for shared values all over the world [and has] been tremendously successful at uniting people, building a broad sense of ownership, creating synergies between sectors, redirecting public and private investments, and strengthening communities for change."
–– Nil S. Navie, Arts in Peace Building and Community Development

"As one who has dealt with art and its relationship to society since the 1960's, I have not experienced a more successful effort in dealing with issues of race, ethnicity and community participation."
--- Floyd Coleman, Chair, Art Department, Howard University

"Community Bridge is a powerful demonstration of the contributions of art to community health. The project helped inspire the founding of the Arts and Health Outreach Initaitive at Penn State, which documents the interrelationships between the arts and health, including holistic community health and well-being."
--- Ermyn King, Coordinator, Arts & Health Outreach Initiative

The Pennsylvania State University


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