Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Art over Fields?

Huge outcry in DC today as locals have learned that soccer fields are being used during the fall season for a piece of art that is only visible from a computer, a plane or the windows of the Washington Monument.

At what point do we take public art too far and does it start to impact that use of a city? Should National Park Service have scheduled this for the winter or early spring when there are a lot of tourists rather than do it during peak fall sports season? As someone who has fought for a permit this outrages me, but I’m happy to see something new on the Mall.


5 comments on “Art over Fields?

  1. evanjsanderson
    October 2, 2014

    Great find Helene! If you hadn’t posted this article on here I probably wouldn’t even know this existed. This kind of exhibition has me torn: on the one hand, a giant free art piece celebrating diversity that skews the user experience in an interesting way? MOAR PLEASE.

    But on the other hand… there’s something a little insidious about it and it’s reflection on the city. You can only see it from high up. So what does that mean? Those who have access to the top floor of large buildings. So who is that? Probably people wealthy enough or connected enough to have continuous access to the few big buildings in the city. Or those who climb up the monument, which is mostly tourists right? Or those who fly in or out of the city. For those people on the ground (which seems to be the ‘demographic’ this piece is trying to represent), it’s just a bunch of soil that’s blocking their soccer and recreation fields.

    What do you all think?

  2. cayleycarroll
    October 2, 2014

    As an avid art and soccer fan my heart is torn between liking and disliking this installation….but my brain is saying “give me a break, this is only wonderful.”

    I am going to go with my brain on this one because the project is not permanent and the fields don’t belong to sports enthusiasts. They belong to anyone who can reserve them. Yes, life isn’t fair.

    I do think there could have been a better time of the season to put up the exhibition– you know, when people aren’t clamoring for field space. All the same, it’s a really great idea and I love the pictures.

  3. gormleykimberly
    October 2, 2014

    I agree with Evan. Great idea, terrible execution. A piece of artwork commissioned by a government art organization needs to be accessible to all audiences, not just those privileged enough to be in high rises or on planes. By preventing the community from using the fields for enjoyment, the artwork is further alienating. I was surprised at first that this hasn’t been publicized more. But the more I think about it, the more I think that might have been intentional- to prevent the sort of annoyed reaction people like myself might be having from being aired as well.

  4. lcrowley2014
    October 3, 2014

    I like the piece! I think it’s all positive – the location, the message, the timing, etc. In my opinion, it’s truly a public art piece to be enjoyed by DC locals and tourists alike. And entirely funded by private donors for public benefit and in the public eye (how much more public can you get than Americas front lawn!?) It brings recognition and re-purpose to the National Mall (beyond the tourists, joggers and kickball clubs) and has a positive message.
    And don’t worry, there is plenty of room to play soccer. I’m pretty sure it’s first come first serve anyway, so just get there earlier. Although – it would have been cool if they could have incorporated this art installation with the turf restoration efforts (every now and then they close off parts of the mall to give the grass a chance to revive) There’s an idea for another public work…

  5. jessicamallow
    October 4, 2014

    Public art pieces can raise a variety of emotions- and this one has done exactly what it’s meant to do. Whether you love it or hate it, you’re talking about it! Because its big, bold, unexpected, different. And this is what artists love. Not every reaction to art, as we know, is supposed to illicit a positive, visceral reaction. Perhaps the artist just wants to draw attention to something. And in this case, D.C. has gotten the whole city talking about this new installation. That aside, the National Park Service could have been more attentive to the needs of the community and the uses for that space.

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