The Daily Gamecock

Column: Our campus needs more public art

USC is a beautiful and vibrant campus, but lacks public art for everyone to enjoy. The university is a diverse community that could be showcased with the additions of murals and sculptures made by student or faculty artists. 

The university is home to two on-campus and one off-campus galleries. The McMaster Gallery has rotating exhibits and is free to the public, according to the School of Visual Art and Design webpage. The other on-campus gallery, Passage Gallery, is student-run and a space for students to show their unique creative sides by experimenting and pushing boundaries. 

While these galleries are great spaces to showcase art with works from on and off campus, there’s wasted potential in not creating pieces where there is heavy foot traffic every day. 

Public art on campus would allow students to pause their hurried walk to class and appreciate art crafted by their classmates. Russell House, Thomas Cooper Library and Greene Street are all prime campus locations for public art that waves of students pass by throughout the day. 

Aubrey Houle, a third-year dance performance and choreography student, talked about how there are not a lot of opportunities to see traditional art. 

"As far as student art that's made, I don't really ever get a chance to see that. Just cause it's not accessible in a common space, like at Russell House where it's easy to walk past,” Houle said. 

If the university is not ready or capable of putting permanent art along the walls or sidewalks just yet, it can start with pop-up shows. This could look like allowing students and staff to display their talents on Greene Street or outside Thomas Cooper Library more consistently. Students could have tabling days specifically for art outside these locations or have a tent up for artists to sell inside like is done for the poster sale each semester.  

Bailey Peterson, coordinator of community programs for the School of Visual Art and Design, explained how as the university's visual arts hub, their school takes on "an active role in promoting art on campus."

“Students can contribute to public art on campus, but need to go through necessary channels of approval,” Peterson said. 

Students that are interested in contributing to public art on campus can reach out to their department to understand what approval or funding is necessary, Peterson said. 

Students should inform their individual schools about a need for more public art on campus. Voice your opinion on the matter and make it understood that now is a perfect opportunity to display our community's talents and diverse range for all to enjoy.   

By allowing students to contribute to the art on campus, the university will start to feel like a home away from home more than ever. As a student body, we want to leave our mark and legacy here after we've graduated. Being a part of a student-led art project for all to enjoy is one way to accomplish that. 

Third-year civil engineer student Sheila Castellanos said she and some of her classmates would like to see more sculptures on campus.

Some of the current statues at the university are located on and off-campus. The Cocky statue, made by alumni Robert Allison, and Richard T. Greener statue, made by sculptor Jon Hair, are both in prominent locations on campus. The more recent A’ja Wilson bronze statue outside of Colonial Life Arena was sculpted by artist Julie Rotblatt-Amrany. 

Thankfully, in February the board of trustees announced that they also plan to build statues of the three Black students who re-desegregated USC in 1963. 

These statues are all courtesy of established sculptors, but statues made by students would allow the current art students to leave a lasting mark on campus. These current pieces are just the beginning for USC adding more public art.

"(There) doesn't have to be a meaning to art sometimes." Castellanos said. “It can represent a society, it's current state, or it can represent a person — how they're thinking, what they want. It's just very liberating.” 

Art can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. As a form of creative expression, the possibilities are endless and having more art gives the USC student body another way to come together and celebrate our beautiful campus.