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Committee to Infuse Art Into UNC's Master Plan

A committee of roughly 20 people met Saturday to begin instituting a public art program into UNC's Master Plan, the blueprint for 50 years of campus growth.

It was the first of six seminars that examine the future of public art, expanding its on-campus presence from what UNC art Professor Jim Hirschfield described as a spotty existence.

"For UNC to become a leading public university, we must strive for significance in art," Hirschfield said in his introductory remarks. "Ultimately, we need to create a UNC-specific plan that looks at our immediate and long-term future."

Consisting of faculty, administrators, local artists and representatives from regional and national arts associations, the committee also was founded to create an administrative and financial framework to guide future projects, said Amy Brannock, director of Arts Carolina.

Arts Carolina was one of the seminar's sponsors, which also included the Office of the Chancellor, College of Arts & Sciences, Carolina Seminars and N.C. Arts Council.

"What one of the things the committee needs to do is determine what is a successful public art program," Brannock said. "We know whatever we use needs to be unique to UNC, but we also want to do something on par or above."

With an influx of designers and architects affiliated with various Master Plan projects, Hirschfield said UNC's current climate was ideal to approach a public art program. "The timing is really quite good," Hirschfield said. "We're not just looking at today and tomorrow, we're looking for a long-term vision."

Saturday's seminar was designed to be broad, providing its attendees a definition of public art and an understanding of the scope of the possibilities, Brannock said. Both Mary Beebe, director of public art at the University of California at San Diego, and Jean Greer of the Arts & Science Council of Charlotte/Mecklenburg County spoke to the group about their past projects and the structures under which they operate.

Seattle-based public artist Norie Sato described her own work and current trends in public artists' work, emphasizing how artists work with designers and engineers in the planning stages so the art blends into building plans seamlessly.

Brannock said she felt the seminar was a good start, and Sato agreed. "There's really great and sincere thinking of starting (a public art program) in 2001, not just taking some model and just applying it."

The next seminar is Dec. 1. and open to the public.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at

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