The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees has formalized a public art policy that's been informally in effect since 2012. The policy creates the President’s Public Art Committee, which is made up of five members from art and non-art departments on campus. The Committee is responsible for reviewing art works proposed for installation on and around campus, and providing recommendations. The UW President, in consultation with the President of the Trustees makes the final call.
The Committee was established after a sculpture called Carbon Sink drew criticism from the energy industry and members of the state legislature. It was ultimately removed early from campus. Some university affiliates have expressed concern that the committee’s work could compromise academic freedom. But the Committee's chairman, Chris Boswell, says it will do no such thing.
“I think what you wind up with is people thinking that the Public Art Committee is there to block. I think the Public Art Committee is there to facilitate. And that’s not semantics,” says Boswell.
He says it will encourage more public art.
“How many installations have there been on campus in the last few years? Not that many. And the intent is try to get more and to perhaps remind ourselves that we can go beyond the typical bronze statue, that it’s perfectly reasonable to look at other unique expressions of art and innovation, research, scholarship, and all the rest,” he says. “I see it as an opportunity.”
The next Committee meeting is scheduled for February 25th.