Date of Award
Master of Art in Art History and Visual Culture
Creative placemaking is defined as when artists, arts organizations and community development practitioners deliberately integrate the arts and culture into revitalization work. Examining the historical context and implementation of creative placemaking practices before the coining of the term, the following essay uses Marxist and Post-Modern methodologies to examine the ways in which art can serve as a tool for driving economic growth while exploring the socio. Using examples ranging from politically driven initiative the New Deal to non-profit contemporary art museum La Chinati in Marfa, Texas, I examine the ways that culturally-driven projects have affected the rural communities in which they are located. Focusing specifically on creative placemaking within a rural context, I outline not just strategies for adopting creative placemaking initiatives, but recognize pitfalls and exclusionary practices in monetizing the cultural sector.
I also use my gallery space Patch & Remington as a catalyst for this study. Founded in February of 2021, I launched Patch & Remington in the rural community of Marcellus, Michigan, population 1,085 — my hometown that I left when I was 17, returning twenty years later. With the objective of creating the space I wish I had growing up, I lead with the concept of an art gallery and retail space featuring independent art publications. After listening to what the people wanted, however, has led me in a different and valuable direction and the space has shifted into one that serves as a community hub. With a small computer lab, laser printers, 3-d printing stations, and retail now featuring local artists and artisans, Patch & Remington has gone from an art space with a focus on community to a community-led art venue with robust programming and engagement opportunities. Recognizing the shifts in participation, intention, and ultimately implementation, Patch & Remington has presented itself as an ideal opportunity to apply what I have read, disrupt the expectation of the role of art and art institutions, and gather practical data on the feasibility of creative placemaking theory, especially as it pertains to rural art institutions, galleries, and centers.
Recognizing that creative placemaking strategies and methodologies are as diverse and “living” as the communities in which they reside, the paragraphs following present methodological benchmarks, historical context, and contemporary theory with the understanding that foundations shift and concepts change, but opportunities are constant. As I was told when I launched my first business in 2014, “Your business will never be the business you envisioned. Flexibility is the key to long-term success.”
Ayers, Sarah Leigh, "The Democratization of Art: Placemaking Initiatives in Rural Spaces" (2022). Theses. 298.
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