…unlike most artworks on social or political themes, these markers don’t merely speak to the small group of viewers that seek out such work in galleries and museums; instead, they gently insert themselves into the public realm. “Are they real?” is a question viewers frequently ask, meaning “are they state-sponsored?” I love this confusion and hope to slip a message in while people are mulling it over.
These markers are just the kind of public art I really enjoy: gently assertive and non-confrontational, firmly thought-provoking and pretty to look at and just a little bit subversive.
Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
That the project is as much about the use of wide-open public spaces as it is about the carefully crafted messages speaks volumes about how innovation may best work in our age. With so little room to communicate messages of social conscience in our message-dense environment, these signs are apt demonstrations of how to pick and choose a context for sociological critique.