Public Art Fund is pleased to present a talk by distinguished American artist Fred Wilson. Appropriating curatorial methods and strategies, Wilson’s work investigates how interpretations of historical truth and cultural value are shaped by institutions and systems of display. His work recontextualizes icons and artifacts to expose the Eurocentric bias within cultural institutions, and many of his projects involve extensive community outreach and research in the cities where they are shown.
Recently, the Central Indiana Community Foundation cancelled the public sculpture it had commissioned Wilson to create for its Cultural Trail Public Art initiative. His proposed sculpture, E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One), would have appropriated the figure of an African American ex-slave depicted in another of the city’s public sculptures, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. In Wilson’s version, the figure’s broken shackles would have been removed, and in his hands would be a flag representing the African Diaspora. Following several years of debate among local government and community groups-in addition to numerous presentations by Wilson himself-the project was discontinued. For his upcoming Public Art Fund Talk, the artist will discuss his recent experience within the broader context of public art and the aims of his artistic practice.