This semester, students enrolled in PHI 260 "Philosophy of the Arts" are focused on the study of public art in Macon-Bibb County. The first service project of the class involved digitizing information about existing public art in the area from Macon Arts Alliance's archives. In order to provide an up-to-date account, students took new photographs, made 360-degree videos, and assessed the conditions of each work of public art. All the information gathered was posted to the online database that also functions as a comprehensive snapshot of the state of public art in Macon-Bibb County. This database can be accessed at www.ovations365.com and includes information about upcoming cultural events.
The students have utilized the information that they gathered in the database to create a walking tour showcasing these pieces. In addition to the Downtown Macon walking tour, there are also plans for a College Hill walking tour that explores public art throughout that particular area of the city.
The Downtown Macon walking tour features public art pieces, art galleries and points of interest on sections of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Cherry Street,Third Street, Mulberry Street, Second Street and Cotton Avenue.
Self-guided versions of both the Downtown and College Hill tours are also available online at the public art website created by the students. Additionally, the class has received a generous grant from Cox Communications for a printed map of the Downtown tour, which will be distributed at several locations, including the Macon Arts Alliance Gallery, the Macon-Bibb County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Market City Café.
"The Knight Neighborhood Challenge grants have instigated a Renaissance in public art in Macon, which builds upon our already strong public art heritage," said Dr. Rosental, associate professor and chair of the Philosophy Department at Mercer. "The students in our class realized that public art not only can be beautiful to look at and commemorate important events and people of the community, but can also become a focal point for community-building. The students decided to help build a stronger community in Macon by using existing public art resources to educate and advocate for those things that bring us together, namely our publicly shared spaces and experiences.The public art database and these tours are our first efforts to help build a grassroots, community-supported public art program in Macon-Bibb."
Zach Hartley, a student from the class, is excited to see how Macon reacts to public art, "The tour is a great opportunity to show off the great city of Macon and all of the public art that it possesses. We're hoping that this tour will attract students, tourists, and even locals who are interested in seeing how beautiful downtown Macon really is."
"The walking tour is designed to be a continuation of the work that we have already done as a class with the database. In showcasing the various public art pieces in the downtown area, we hope to raise awareness about the significance and the prevalence of public art in our community," Anna Mae Kersey added.
Paul Peterson is one of the docents for the tour. "Giving this tour has let me see downtown Macon as both a historical and beautiful place. The tour has also opened my eyes to all that needs to be done to both improve and keep our little city amazing," he explained.
Joshua Soave and Ryan Walters are optimistic about the future of public art in Macon, "In spite of the many obstacles that our class has faced throughout the year, we're ecstatic to see a public art movement here in Macon. We hope this momentum continues over the summer and interest in Macon's 'Art in the Park' program will grow.Our classmates worked hard adding to the database, creating a website, designing brochures, and mapping out the tour itself. However, our work would not have been possible without the generous community support we've received and assistance from our professor, Dr. Rosental."
About Macon Arts Alliance
Macon Arts Alliance is a 501c3 non-profit organization and the designated local arts agency of Macon-Bibb County. Its mission is to foster and support the advancement of arts and culture in Central Georgia. Macon Arts Alliance works to create an environment where arts and culture thrive and Central Georgia is recognized as an unparalleled cultural destination.
About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,300 students in 12 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing, health professions, and continuing and professional studies – on campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah – and four regional academic centers across the state. The Mercer Health Sciences Center, launched July 1, 2012, includes the University's medical, nursing, health sciences and pharmacy schools. Mercer is affiliated with four teaching hospitals – Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and The Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The University also has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. It operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. www.mercer.edu