Temporary campus art should be initiated, promoted

Credit: Adelaide Cole/Art Editor Credit: Adelaide Cole/Art Editor

As an assignment for one of their classes, second-year architecture students had to build a structure to house those painting and guarding the Fence. This project aimed for function and form; once completed, it resembled an outdoor art exhibit.

We appreciate these students and their artistic structures. Having the landscape of campus change with temporary pieces of art makes Carnegie Mellon feel alive — it concretely demonstrates that students are passionate about creative endeavors that can be shared with the community. Temporary works of art that pop up around campus are often a pleasant surprise, and they convey a sense of life, spontaneity, and free-thinking. Moreover, these installations often spur campus conversations and a sense of community.

Take the “shantytown” that was erected in response to the G-20 coming to Pittsburgh two years ago. The collection of structures indeed looked like a legitimate shantytown, and students had varying opinions on it; some students thought it was unsightly and full of hippies, while others supported the political stance the art took. In either case, the project showcased how involved and enthusiastic the artists were to share their beliefs. They used temporary art as a way to make a statement against the G-20 conference, and this art made the campus landscape more diverse. The shantytown could not be overlooked; it became a focal point and stirred up serious conversations. And, once the G-20 left Pittsburgh, so did the structure. It could never have survived as a permanent installation on campus, which made its message all the more appreciated.

Carnegie Mellon prides itself on innovation and change; it only makes sense for its actual landscape to reflect these values. Spaces like the art park on Forbes Avenue, which was created in 2010 for small temporary art installations that change on a regular basis, could be used more frequently. Promoting more temporary art installations dispersed throughout campus will demonstrate how creative and passionate our student body is, as well as bring the university’s environment to life.