Xandra Eden: I am Xandra Eden, Curator of Exhibitions at the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The Weatherspoon Art Museum has one of the foremost collections of American and contemporary art in the Southeast. It numbers almost 6,000 works, and we have a very active exhibition and public program schedule that draws audiences from many different parts of North Carolina, across the U.S., and internationally.
So the Downtown Greenway public art selection panel has a really wonderful process. The panel begins with more of an expansive look at the areas and the neighborhoods that the Greenway is passing through and who lives there. They also look at an appropriate model to take in developing art projects throughout the Greenway. Then the panel moves toward an open call. So we have artists who have submitted proposals from across the U.S. responding to these different ideas. There are four different ideas that we are putting forward for the cornerstones. We also have several different benches that have been created or proposed as well as other projects. We are really working toward having an expansive and open submissions process.
During the course of determining who the artist is at the committee meetings, we have really interesting discussions about what is most appropriate, how they could work with the communities, and what makes sense for us as a community. Once we have decided on an artist that we think makes the most sense, then we move to another process that involves an open communication between the artist and the people who live in that community. It’s a nice kind of open communication in all aspects of moving toward this project.
We are always looking for new artists and fresh ideas for these projects that are coming up. We are really excited that we have been able to partner with wonderful organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, the United Arts Council, and my own institution, the Weatherspoon Art Museum, as well as Elsewhere Collaborative in Downtown Greensboro. With all of these arts organizations, with the community, and with people who live in these neighborhoods all contributing to what the Greenway is, it sets up a really welcoming experience for any artist who does a project here. They have all come away with positive feelings about the project they did in Greensboro and all the different people they met, as well as the way they networked with other artists here and other people involved in collecting or curating art. This process has been very beneficial for the artists as well as our community.